A hotel group about to build a 270 bedroom hotel in the centre of Newcastle announced an increase in profits yesterday.
The Dublin-based Jurys Doyle hotel and inns operation is having a £17.9m Jurys Inn built on the site of the former cattle market, beside the International Centre for Life.
It is due to open in Spring 2003, with a start to work this month.
Announcing a pretax profits rise of 11.3pc - on turnover 15pc up for the year to April 30 - the group said its move into Newcastle was part of a strategy to develop at least 12 Jury Inns in the UK over the next four years.
Chief executive Pat McCann said: "Newcastle is a vibrant UK headline city that enjoys an excellent yearround mix of corporate, leisure and tourism activity and is perfectly suited to the development of our inns brand.
"I am confident that our Jurys Inn Newcastle will quickly become an integral element of corporate and leisure activity in the city, while making a strong contribution to the overall performance of the group."
In the latest financial year, Jurys Doyle profits were £33.9m on turnover of £157.5m.
Besides its Irish hotels in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, it has operations in London, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, and three in Washington, USA.
It has inns in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, as well as London, Edinburgh and Manchester.
The group recently opened a 170 bedroom hotel at Great Russell Street in London, where its strong trading to date has met expectations.
Also in London, it has added 69 bedrooms and a leisure extension to the Clifton Ford Hotel.
Meanwhile it is also building a £17m hotel in Croydon, whose 240 bedrooms will be available from January. In Birmingham it bought two hotels from the Chamberlain Group, the Tower and the Park.
The Tower has been rebranded to trade as Jurys Inn Birmingham. The Park did not fit in with ongoing strategy and has been sold on for £8.25m.
Describing the period as another year of strong results, Mr McCann said: "All our properties in the UK, the US and Ireland performed profitably.
"Record numbers of guests have been attracted to our growing portfolio."
The dividend to shareholders will be raised 15.9pc for the year.
Besides its growing presence in the UK, Jurys Doyle aims to expand across mainland Europe and other parts of the USA.