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The rise and rise of Talash Hotels Group Written by Ben Mouncer

Produced by Brogan Baggott 3

Sanjay and Ravi Kathuria, brothers and Directors of the UK-based Talash Hotels Group, on their journey from being humble waiters to awardwinning hoteliers Determination. Resilience. Passion. It’s these qualities and more that have enabled brothers Sanjay and Ravi Kathuria to make a mark on the British hotel industry over the last decade with Talash Hotels Group. Driven by a burning ambition to replicate their uncle’s success in the trade, the pair are proud to have overcome a series of challenges to establish their position in a highly-saturated market, growing their business to boast a portfolio of 13 individual character hotels across the country. “Our parents have offered great support from the start and we were really inspired by our uncle, who used to be a hotelier,” recalls Sanjay. “When we were growing up as children we used to sit on fire-exit stairs in his hotels and have the dream of owning one ourselves. “Our uncle and his family lived in a mansion with a swimming pool and we were the poor relations, growing up in a two-up, two-down terrace. The motivation was there, knowing you could make all of


The number of the Group’s hotels located in the United Kingdom


Stoke Rochford Hall Hotel & Golf Resort

this out of hotels, thinking that the way to succeed in life was to buy a hotel.”

The Talash Group tale Both waiters in their early careers, the brothers took their first plunge into ownership in 2005 – but suffered a setback when the property they had lined up to purchase was suddenly

swept up by a corporate bidder as part of a wider sale agreed by its owners. It was a blow to Sanjay and Ravi, who saw an opportunity to follow their dream cruelly snatched away. It took 18 months to uncover another suitable project, but the development of the Falstaff Hotel in Leamington Spa didn’t reap

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...and a brand that is investing for the future and changing for the better. We are proud that in the last 12 months, more investors and operators than ever before are choosing to partner with Best Western Great Britain; groups like the entrepreneurial Talash Hotels. That is because we have listened to the investment sector, strengthened and diversified our brand offering, improved our guest experience and, in case you have missed it, we have also changed our logo. The new bigger and better Best Western has 11 unique brands, which means we can mean more to more people. We have a brand

for every hotel from economy to upscale and, because we are a membership organisation not a franchise everything is reinvested back into making our hotels busier and our guests happier. With short minimum membership contracts starting at just 5 years, we are a brand that likes to work in partnership with operators on a short or long-term basis. We are investing for the future too. In the last three years our member hotels have spent ÂŁ214m upgrading properties and improving guest experiences with a further ÂŁ100m planned for investment in 2018 and 2019. The improvements we have

been making have resulted in a record increase in hotel applications in 2017 and we are confident about breaking that recruitment record in 2018. In short, Best Western has been busy getting better and expanding its range of brilliantly different stays. New by Best Western: This year we launched four brands including our first in the economy sector, Sure Hotel by Best Western. Other new brands include Sure Hotel Plus by Best Western, Sure Hotel Collection by Best Western and BW Signature Collection by Best Western.

All attractive options for travellers wanting independent places to stay but attractive too for investors and groups looking for a brand that allows them to keep their identities. Loyalty scheme with global reach: Joining Best Western gives you access to an award-winning global loyalty scheme with over 27 million members. Business friendly stays: We have a selection of rewarding accounts for businesses and business travellers covering worldwide, Europe and Great Britain. All providing brilliant benefits wherever you are in the world.

Coming soon to Best Western: We are looking to innovate as a brand and expand our brand offering, providing more reasons to make Best Western the first choice for investors and hotel operators and the first choice for guests wanting unique stays. We are passionate about working in partnership with independent hotel operators and investors, and have ambitious plans to build on our recent success. If you would like to know more about the new, bigger, better Best Western family we are happy to answer your questions.

You can start that conversation if you are a hotel operator or investor by emailing us at hoteldevelopment@ bestwestern.co.uk, or, if you are looking to book your next stay, you can discover our 250 distinctive hotels at www.bestwestern.co.uk. Now more than ever, there is more to explore with Best Western Great Britain. Rob Paterson Chief Executive, Best Western Great Britain

Sanjay Kathuria

immediate rewards for the duo. The location opened its doors in 2007, but recession hit business hard and by 2009 the Kathurias had conceded 60% of the property’s value. “We were then forced into business support with the bank, and it was only through our negotiation and our determination that we continued to drive the business through the recession,” reveals Sanjay. “We had to cut costs, we did a number of shifts ourselves, we did kitchen work – we did everything basically. We learned everything there is to learn about running a hotel.”


“Everybody talks about the fact that how, as owners, we go and engage with every single person, whether that be guests or our staff members. Then they feed off each other” Sanjay Kathuria Director, Talash Hotels Group

Ravi Kathuria

These experiences proved invaluable to Sanjay and Ravi, who today own a wide range of unique accommodation but each of which are ran in line with the clear management philosophies the pair have established over the last 11 years. Talash Group’s flagship hotel is at Stoke Rochford Hall Hotel & Golf Resort in Lincolnshire, an historic location with close to 100 guestrooms, two restaurants and an indoor swimming pool. As well as the

still flourishing Falstaff Hotel, other desirable premises include the 11th century Risley Hall Hotel in Derbyshire and the stunning Tudor-design Chimney House Hotel in Cheshire. In order to maintain a keen eye over their portfolio, Talash has an important relationship with its staff at all levels, as the brothers outline. “Our General Managers (GMs) come in for a monthly meeting with ourselves, but we also work on a one-to-one connection with them,” says Ravi. “We

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Sector focus yields results for Allied Irish Bank (GB) customers With a 25-year track record of supporting growing businesses in the hospitality sector, Allied Irish Bank (GB) (AIB (GB)), is putting its money where its mouth is. Earlier this year the bank launched a dedicated £500m lending fund targeted at owners of established businesses looking for growth finance, be it for acquisitions, capital expenditure programmes or re-financing packages. AIB (GB)’s sector focused approach is one which the bank believes in whole-heartedly, as Emma Young, Head of Hotels, explains: “The hospitality sector is one of four areas of business focus for AIB (GB) and one with enormous significance to the UK economy. It’s an ambitious group, too. In a recent survey*, which we conducted among hotel and leisure business owners, the majority had experienced turnover growth of between 11% and 20% in the last two years and 65% believed they had an ambitious approach to growth”. “Concentrating on key sectors means we really get under the skin of the industry, understand what the drivers and challenges are, as well as the market forces at work. Crucially, it also means we can work more flexibly with clients. In the case of hospitality, we understand the seasonality of the industry, how currency changes and exports can suddenly


L/R Mark Duggan, AIB (GB) Birmingham; Ravi and Sanjay Kathuria, Talash Hotels Group; Morgan Keating, AIB (GB) Birmingham.

affect cash flow and costs, and what investments are required to future-proof businesses.” Steve Sisson, Relationship Manager at AIB (GB), whose team has worked with Talash Hotels Group on three of its most recent acquisitions, adds: “Ravi and Sanjay are typical of the successful management teams AIB (GB) works with. They are highly motivated entrepreneurs with a clearly defined strategy of buying well-located properties with significant potential for growth. They combine their extensive experience with a philosophy of offering genuine hospitality to their guests and this combination is clearly bearing fruit for the brothers.” Talash Group’s emphasis on top quality customer service chimes with AIB (GB). The hospitality industry is a people business and the same is true of relationship banking - something which AIB (GB) holds as a central tenet to everything it does. Young concludes: “Customers continue to tell us how important this aspect of our work is to them. Our sector expertise, coupled with empowered teams and short reporting lines, means we’re able to provide them with a very responsive service. Feedback from customers and professional contacts supports this, pointing to our knowledge, professionalism and accessibility. We know how much these things matter.” *Source: AIB (GB)’s 2017 Steps to Growth survey

Steve Sisson, Relationship Manager – Corporate Business 0121 483 6934 | 07917 413349 | steve.a.sisson@aib.ie Allied Irish Bank (GB), 61 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5LS Emma Young, Head of Hotels – Corporate Banking 0207 090 7169 | 07824 820013 | emma.j.young@aib.ie Allied Irish Bank (GB), Podium Floor, St Helens 1 Undershaft, London, EC3A 8AB

have created a head office with the key people being a regional business development manager, an area manager, a group operations manager and a group financial manager. But what we tend to do is we try and give our input directly to the GMs so that everyone understands our thinking.” Sanjay adds: “One thing we don’t do, we don’t differentiate between a senior manager or a toilet cleaner. Everybody talks about the fact that how, as owners, we go and engage with every single person, whether that be guests or our staff members. Then they feed off each other. “I always say to every single one of my staff members, ‘please don’t come in thinking to yourself your name is Joe and I just work on reception. When you park the car, when you walk in, think to yourself that you’ve booked into this hotel tonight, that you’re staying here. What do you see?’”

Investing in technology For every business in the sector, customer service remains by far and away the number one priority. Talash Group has recently invested

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a six-figure sum to overhaul its web platform, which will become a onestop-shop for potential visitors to explore the company’s choice of hotels and utilise an innovative booking solution to easily reserve rooms and book restaurant tables. The new site will also have video content at its forefront, a deliberate strategy to engage the modern consumer. “In today’s market the consumer is buying with their eyes,” comments Ravi. “They’re not buying by reading anymore. It’s so important to make sure you’ve got video websites, which a lot of hotel groups in the UK still haven’t got smart to. It’s started in the United States, but it hasn’t started properly here yet. We’re going to be one of the first hotel groups in the UK to have a video-led site.” Talash Group’s commitment to innovation doesn’t stop there, with the firm currently working on two pieces of pilot technology that would greatly improve the customer’s experience on-site; a direct marketing tool to send key hotel information


straight to guests’ devices when they arrive at the property, and also an automated check-in system that hugely simplifies the process for both the visitor and members of staff.

Giving something back In February, Talash Group picked up the ‘Excellence in Business’ award at the 4th Signature Awards at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, and Sanjay and Ravi each admit that the surprise at receiving this recognition led them to reflect on the journey they’ve been on since 2005. As a gesture last Christmas, the brothers helped with providing food for the homeless community and both are determined to inspire other young business people in the West Midlands and beyond to follow through with their aspirations, as Ravi explains. “We feel a lot of young people can benefit from our experience. What we’ve now started to do is work with some of the local entrepreneurs to create a community. It’s about engaging them with how we did it – we know how to continue the growth in our business but some

“We feel a lot of young people can benefit from our experience. What we’ve now started to do is work with some of the local entrepreneurs to create a community” Ravi Kathuria Director, Talash Hotels Group

‘Talash Group has recently invested a six-figure sum to overhaul its web platform, which will become a one-stopshop for potential visitors to explore the company’s choice of hotels and utilise an innovative booking solution to easily reserve rooms and book restaurant tables’ 14

Talash Hotels Group picked up the ‘Excellence in Business’ award at the recent 4th Signature Awards

people don’t get that opportunity. “There are some amazing entrepreneurs out there but they don’t know how to take it forward. This is about bringing awareness to younger entrepreneurs of how to do just that.” Would entering into business with your sibling be one piece of advice? “We get questioned on this every day by so many people because sometimes two brothers in business just does not work,” Ravi laughs. “The beauty with me and Sanjay is that we’ll have an argument if we need to for 15 minutes, but we know by 25

minutes we will make up and that’s key to making the business a success. Sanjay goes further, revealing: “We have an amazing working relationship to be honest with you. We normally come to decisions quite quickly and sometimes it’s scary because I’m saying something and he’s already thought it, it’s strange the way our minds work. We’re like two peas in a pod.”

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Profile for Business Chief Europe

Talash Hotels Group Brochure – May2018  

Talash Hotels Group Brochure – May2018