By Adedapo Adesanya
The management of Capital Hotels Plc, owners of Sheraton Abuja Hotel, has assured shareholders of the hospitality company that efforts would be made to create better value for them by ensuring a better market presence for the business despite the huge challenging operational environment.
Chairman of the interim board, Mr Anthony Idigbe, gave this assurance on Monday at the company’s ‘Facts Behind the Figure’ held at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos. The team was also honoured yesterday by the NSE with the closing gong ceremony.
Addressing investment analysts at the event on Monday, including Business Post, Mr Idigbe said out of the 575 guest rooms the firm’s flagship hotel, Sheraton Abuja Hotel, has, 266 are presently undergoing renovation, but 97 rooms should be completed in the first quarter of 2020. He said these will include state-of-the-art club rooms and suites.
He express optimism that when these 97 rooms are released for customers’ use early next year, they should improve the “market share [of the company], enhance revenue [and] boost [its] presence.”
According to Mr Idigbe, “As you all know, Capital Hotels has been undergoing some transformation, we are happy we have a cohesive board for corporate governance and we have adopted many policies so as to be able to focus the components on the business.
“The result is that in the last two years, we have been able to declare profits and we hope to continue in that fashion. We have ambition to be the largest provider of leisure and business spaces in Nigeria.
“We are working very hard on refurbishing our rooms, banqueting and conferencing facilities. Also, we have returned our marketing plans and strategy and we hope to continue sustaining the current performance and even exceeding it.”
An Executive Director of Capital Hotels, Mr Robert Itawa, during his presentation, explained that the renovation was part of efforts to turnaround fortunes of the company, following decisions by the new management to commence an upgrade of some facilities in the hotel.
He assured investors that the company will improve its service delivery so as to result into more return of investment for shareholders of the hospitality firm, which was readmitted on the stock exchange in 2008.
However, Mr Itawa pointed out some factors having negative impact of the company’s numbers, which include a high operating cost. He explained that the organisation had to book the cost of implication of legacy staff schemes following an agreement with the unions. He added that the cost is expected to spread over a three-year period.
“For the past three years, this legacy cost alone is about N300 million. We have paid N110 million this year and from 2010 till date, cost associated with legacy system alone is N2.8 billion.
”That is why we have entered into negotiations with the union because we felt if we do not do something, the hotel will die and people will not get their money.
“In the next one year, we would have completed the payment of whatever that is outstanding. We have been paying massively every year since that period without fail and that is why we are experiencing industrial harmony,” Mr Itawa informed analysts present at the meeting.
Mentioning other challenges facing Capital Hotels, Mr Itawa said they include kidnapping, insurgency, institutional failure, poor transport system, power outage, public water shortage, integrity shortage amongst others.
Giving an outlook for the company in the future, he said that the firm may consider enhancing its topline by 60 percent mainly from the newly renovated 97 rooms.
While fielding questions from participants yesterday on the tenure of the present interim team, Chairman of the board, Mr Anthony Idigbe, assured that the board would ensure to complete its mandate within the time frame and not stay longer than necessary.
In his words, “I want to assure you that some of us will like to exit as quickly as possible and as soon as necessary. We continue to see it as a national service to perform this role.
“We are very proud of the work we have done so far, but be assured that we will not stay a minute longer than necessary.”
“We are happy that by the first quarter of next year, substantial progress would have been made in the decision process. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is going to ensure that rights of fair hearing are not breached. The process is very important. We are trying to get a solution that would be sustainable,” Mr Idigbe added.
SEC had on May 4, 2017, dissolved the former board of directors and appointed an interim board led by Mr Anthony Idigbe. The action was taken to protect investors of the company as well as integrity of the capital market and to restore the lost fortunes of the company in the shortest time possible.
The new interim board was mandated to oversee the conduct of a forensic investigation into the affairs of the company, considering the allegations of unauthorised sale of shares and diversion of proceeds from the sale of shares, amongst others.
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