Peel deal for Midland Hotel to host casino

The casino chips could soon be stacking up in the basement of a hotel that hosted the Beatles, Laurel and Hardy and most of Britain’s 20th century Prime Ministers.

Yesterday Peel Hotels revealed it had signed a deal with Clermont Leisure (UK), which is expected to lead to the creation of a casino in the basement of the Midland Hotel in Bradford.

A conditional agreement has been signed for a 25-year lease to rent the basement with Clermont, who gained a gaming licence for the hotel in September. London-based Peel bought the Midland in 1998 and has carried out extensive refurbishment, including a GBP 400,000 redevelopment of the Princes ballroom.

The hotel was built in the late 19th century to accommodate the famous and wealthy. Apart from Laurel and Hardy and the Beatles, guests have included every Prime Minister up to Harold Wilson. Sir Henry Irving, the Victorian actor-manager, died in the Midland in 1905. Peel owns seven other hotels, including the Golden Lion in Leeds.

In its interim results report, Peel Hotels also disclosed that it had sold the Avon Gorge Hotel in Bristol for GBP 15.5m and the freehold for land in Salem Street, Bradford, which has planning permission for 99 apartments, office space and car parking, for GBP 2m.

In the half year to August 26, the company’s pre-tax profits were up 45 per cent to GBP 755,226, while turnover grew by 1 per cent to GBP 8.76m.

Chairman Robert Peel said: „We have shown encouraging progress in the period. The net effect of our asset sales and lease acquisition, apart from a significant capital gain from the former, will be to leave the company totally debt free going forward.“ The comparative sales increase from the company’s hotels was 2.2 per cent and accommodation revenue per available room (revpar) increased by 4.2 per cent. Occupancy was up 1.7 per cent and average room rate up 2.3 per cent.

Total capital expenditure over the half year was GBP 731,838 of which GBP 216,292 was spent on the Avon Gorge Hotel, mainly on renovating the outside of the building. Further external renovation has been carried out on the Midland Hotel. An interim dividend of 2.0p per share was declared.