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Tricky market conditions by any standard, and in and out of lockdowns…not the ideal time to start any new business, least of all one dealing with the hospitality sector! But Drysdale & Company, one of Scotland’s leading specialist commercial property agencies dealing exclusively with the hospitality sector, which was launched to market a year ago this week, was undaunted by these issues.

Believing it had a unique proposition for the hospitality sector, the agency, a collaboration between experienced commercial property expert, Stuart Drysdale (MRICS), and Alex McKie, Managing Director of The Fusion Group, which owns and runs numerous successful hospitality businesses, has borne considerable fruit in the past twelve months, and is now well established in its sector.

Multiple instructions from Hotels to find fresh buyers for premium properties, including the iconic Lake of Menteith Hotel and Poppies in Callander, have combined with referrals from the agency’s extensive network of professional advisors and business owners.

Following the extremely high levels of interest in the leasehold opportunity at Lake of Menteith, Drysdale & Company has now concluded this deal, whilst it’s also been busy successfully disposing of a twenty bedroom hotel in Edinburgh city centre to an International investor.

Bolstering the Public House sector which has seen Drysdale & Company sell Sheddens Inn in Glasgow, a traditional lock-up pub, to an experienced multiple operator in the summer of 2021, and take offers for Jeanie Deans, a wet led pub in Edinburgh due to open in its new format in January 2022, was the appointment of Brian Davidson, who was made a Non-Executive Director of The Fusion Group earlier this year.

Whilst a separate company in its own right, Drysdale and Company enjoys a unique synergy with Fusion, which also runs a Meetings & Events company, with the two businesses supporting one another in contacts and shared experience.

The latest pub to hit the agency’s books, The Cross Keys in Alva, has offers in after only a week of marketing, presenting an excellent opportunity for a tenant to re-establish the unit.

“It’s certainly been a rollercoaster of a first year for us,” said Stuart Drysdale, “but we are very fortunate to have been busy throughout, and to have hit the ground running with a fantastic network of contacts and support which has helped us achieve our clients’ objectives. We hope to be able to help many more hospitality businesses in 2022 as our sector is far from out of the woods. There are always opportunities if you access the right assistance.”

“We’re delighted about the successful conclusion of the deal for the Lake of Menteith Hotel, and were honoured to represent this award winning hospitality business,” continued Stuart.

“Poppies Hotel in Callander is currently for sale with a freehold asking price of £675k, to include a 3 bed owners house to the rear of the hotel. It’s another fantastic opportunity for the right operator to put their stamp onto this business. We’ve had numerous other high quality confidential instructions in the Borders and Perthshire, with asking prices from £800k to £4m, so the market is definitely picking up.

Stuart outlined that three new opportunities were already on the horizon for 2022.

“We’re going to be selling a luxury lodge site in the North East of Scotland, coming to market early in the year, along with a mixed use hotel and lodge development site on the West Coast” he said.

“There’s also an established hospitality business for sale off market with profits close to £2m. We hope to keep up 2021’s momentum and build on it with even higher profile clients.”

On his market predictions for the self catering accommodation market in 2022, he said: “This sector will continue to be strong with the continued uncertainty in the travel sector most probably leading to high levels of Staycations throughout Scotland. Banks and commercial lenders will also probably look to fund purchases in this sector more readily than the full service hotel model.”

Stuart backed this up by stating that he was frequently being asked to search for off-market opportunities for established, experienced operators.

“If you’re thinking of understanding the value of your business we can provide quick, confidential and realistic advice, and in many cases will have a book of buyers who may be interested without having to go to the open market,” he said.

On the market for pubs, he said: “The local pub market continues to look positive as there will likely be a shift in working patterns with more people spending work and leisure time closer to home as many office based corporate workers have the option to work from home on a more frequent basis. Operators of good pubs with a quality food provision are looking for local destinations out-with the city centres, where they may continue to have a presence, but then supplement trade with businesses closer to residential areas. The Scottish hospitality industry has never been short on innovation and new ideas and whilst we find ourselves navigating a tricky period in the continued pandemic, there will always be opportunities to look at.”

Commenting on the first anniversary of Drysdale and Company, Alex McKie said: “My congratulations go to Stuart on a first trading year which has quickly seen Drysdale & Company become a one stop shop for hospitality businesses of all sizes looking to sell, or consider other practical solutions. It’s a professional, welcoming, and trusted source of advice in the industry with so much more to achieve in the coming years.”

Drysdale & Company give hospitality businesses the opportunity to present themselves to market in the best possible way, with the agency accessing top quality photography & videography, together with multiple add-ons such as 3D walk throughs, property condition reports, and full compliance checking to increase the speed and efficiency of a business transaction.

Asset disposal is only one of the different solutions and pathways offered, with the agency also able to advise on and implement potential management services, accommodation booking services, and joint ventures & leasing, all designed to boost revenue and improve an operator’s profit margin. 

Ultimately, this can mean that perhaps a business does not need to sell up at all, or if they do, they will achieve a much better price,” said Stuart.