The Dalata Hotel Group intends to have a presence in Germany within the next five years.
Speaking after the group's agm in Dublin, chief executive Pat McCann said the owner of the Clayton and Maldron hotel chains has done a lot of market research in Germany. Earlier this year, Dalata suggested it might dip a toe in the German market if an opportunity arose, but would ultimately not meaningfully expand there for a number of years.
Mr McCann said Dalata's entire near-term focus will remain on growing its UK and Ireland hotel portfolio. Between the two countries, Dalata has a pipeline of 2,200 more rooms over the next three years.
Mr McCann said it remains "too soon" to talk about German expansion, but said Dalata's first opening in Germany should happen within the next five years.
He also said he sees more "opportunistic" hotel deals opening up for Dalata in London following its recent opening of a Clayton Hotel in the City of London.
Dalata said it saw strong trading momentum continue through the first quarter of this year. The group's asset base was valued at €1.2bn at the end of 2018 and its free cash position has grown from €86m to €100m since the turn of the year. It also has a new debt facility in place which is due to mature in 2023, but which can be extended to 2025. All in all, the group has two funding lines in place without any need to tap shareholders for equity or refinance loan facilities.
Mr McCann told shareholders that the group is well-positioned for sustainable future growth. He also said Dalata would never build a 1,000 bedroom hotel as such a project would be too costly to build, too high risk and unsustainable.
Dalata has lost out in the running to operate a terminal-side hotel at Dublin Airport, but Mr McCann said he does not know if it will win the operatorship of the hotel planned for the site of the current Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin.