Not so sunny: Low demand pushed profits down for Caribbean travel group Elegant Hotels

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Daily Life In The Carribean
Choppy waters ahead for Elegant Hotels (Source: Getty)

Elegant Hotels faced a tough year as profits fell during 2016 due to the weak pound and lower demand for luxury accommodation.

The figures

The Caribbean travel group, which owns six upscale hotels and a beachfront restaurant on Barbados, said revenue was down 5.2 per cent in 2016, at $57m (£46.3m).

Adjusted pre-tax profit for year to the end of September was down 12 per cent to $14.2m, while adjusted earnings fell 11.6 per cent to $19.6m. The hotel owner's year-end net debt was $61.8m compared with $40.8m in 2015.

Adjusted earnings per share were down to 13.1 cents per share compared with 14.7 cents in 2015. A proposed final dividend of 3.5p per share, which is paid in pounds, will result in full-year dividend of 7p per share.

Shares were down 1.4 per cent at 79.65p in mid-afternoon trading.

Read more: Elegant Hotels announces second divi but bookings hit by Brexit nerves

Why it's interesting

Part of Elegant Hotels' problem is that its hotel rooms are priced in US dollars, which means they've gone up in price for UK customers since the pound slumped over the summer, Paul Hickman, analyst at Edison Investment Research said.

"In addition, although visitor numbers to Barbados have grown, demand for luxury hotel accommodation from the UK declined by 6.6 per cent for the first half of calendar 2016," he added.

In May 2016, the hotel owner ushered in its new Waves hotel, and in November it sealed the deal on a management contract for its Hodges Bay property in Antigua, its first outside Barbados. These costs are preparing the company for further growth as a public company.

This is the company's first full-year results since it floated on Aim in May 2015, and its available rooms have grown 40 per cent since then, Hickman said.

Read more: The travel industry is braced for thousands of potential insolvencies

What Elegant Hotels said

Chief executive Sunil Chatrani said:

Against a backdrop of challenging market conditions, the group has delivered a solid performance and made good progress in key areas during the year.

Despite the current challenges that the group and the wider Barbados luxury hotel market are facing, we continue to be confident in our long term growth prospects and remain committed to our expansion strategy in both Barbados and across other parts of the Caribbean.

What analysts said

Hickman added:

For those willing to look through short-term exchange-rate challenges, the company’s dominance of its niche market at the premium end of the Barbadian and potentially wider West Indian market, should be attractive.

In short

Things won't look sunny for the travel company until the pound makes some gains.

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