Supercity's Roger Walters on new investment and doubling the company's portfolio

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 17 December 2020

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UK: Supercity Aparthotels founder and chairman Roger Walters spoke to SAN about how a recent £10 million investment in the company will help it to double its portfolio by 2025.

• What can you tell us about the new investors in the company?

"They're not new investors, they are the same investors that we've had for the last eight years. We haven't had to bring any new investors on board, everybody's pretty happy with the business model despite the fact there's been no dividend this year. Everyone understands the reason for that. So we haven't had to go outside our group of high net-worth individuals, which is very reassuring."

• Where are your target locations for future openings and what do you anticipate will be the velocity of new openings?

"We want to try to double our estate over the next five years, if not more than double it. We have six aparthotels at the moment, and I think we could get to 15 within the next four to five years. We've started looking at areas where we don't have any coverage, such as the north-east, Scotland and Bristol, and I think there's still scope for us to grow in London, although it's more of a business-based community. We will definitely endeavour to pick up more leisure and staycation business in London."

• You currently own all your properties. Would you consider operating other people's buildings in future?

"I would say it's unlikely. We would consider it if somebody offered us a great building which fit our business model, but it's unlikely in so much as we are property people at heart, rather than operators. We've learned how to operate, but we wouldn't do it unless it was very lucrative for us. I don't think we're ever going to be another Roomzzz, or another Native."

• How has your guest demographic changed during the pandemic and how do you see it evolving?

"We've picked up a lot of staycationers in Brighton and Manchester, as well as a lot of longer stay guests, people who are looking at us as a home, staying for six months or so. We always want to aim for the business community because that gives us a better length of stay, so we are obviously looking at more tourism but also trying to pull in the business travellers."

• How has business travel held up and were you seeing signs of a revival before the latest restrictions?

"Not really. The SMEs were definitely not picking up. Some of the big corporations with massive head offices in London, where there were between 10 and 20 per cent of their staff coming in to work - we're offering exceptionally good rates to get them to stay overnight, or for two or three nights so they wouldn't have to travel that much. We did very well with that offering during the period after lockdown. But we're not seeing the corporates come back other than the very large tech companies."

• Have you got a best guess as to when business travel will return in significant volumes?

"I don't really see it until the end of Q2 next year. A lot of people are going to be coming to the office less often than they used to, they have realised they don't need to be in the office every day to do their job. Having said that, London is still a great place to work and a lot of people do want to get back."

 

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