• Von Essen completes LFH buy

Von Essen Hotels has completed its acquisition of Luxury Family Hotels (LFH), a takeover that started back in May last year. The share capital is being bought for £10m with the total deal valued at £20m plus another £12m pending lease negotiations for the Ickworth Hotel in Suffolk.

The acquisition means Von Essen is adding a family-focused product alongside its existing country and classic collections.

The 17 existing hotels within the Von Essen portfolio include Cliveden, the Royal Crescent in Bath and Sharrow Bay in Cumbria. The four new additions are Fowey Hall (36 rooms), Moonfleet Manor (36 rooms), Woolley Grange (26 rooms) and Ickworth (27 rooms).

Funding for the deal is coming from Von Essen's own resources. Von Essen chairman Andrew Davis said: \As we move into the family hotel market, LFH's heritage and expertise will be nurtured by Von Essen as we continue our growth across the UK and into continental Europe.\

LFH was set up by Nigel Chapman and Nicholas Dickinson. The concept is to provide a family-friendly environment in which adults are catered for as much as children.

The pair subsequently focused on the OFEX-listed LHM which owns the five Alias branded hotels. The Alias brand is a mid-market product with a funky twist by featuring facilities such as nightclubs. LHM also owns 20% of the Ickworth Hotel.

Von Essen this time last year issued a financial review partly in an attempt to squash rumours about having shaky finances. In the 12 months to June 30, 2004, it had a turnover of £42m and pre-tax profits of £5.02m.

The company said that following the LFH acquisition it was looking to add about another six hotels in the UK before targeting France.
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