Company with hotels in Troon and Irvine sees tourists coming back
Name: Malcolm Simpson.
Age: 59 years old.
What is your company called?
SimsInns – we are a family owned group of award winning hotels, restaurants and bars.
Where is he based?
Our locations are all in the heart of Ayrshire. Guests benefit from their proximity to each other, which allows them to access our range of accommodation, restaurants and leisure facilities across the group.
What does it produce, what services does it offer?
We have a range of different locations, each with their own unique offering. The Gailes Hotel in Irvine is a 40-room luxury hotel and home to our beautiful new spa. The Old Loans Inn is located on the outskirts of Troon and has 20 guest rooms. The Waterside Hotel and Restaurant is located on the waterfront in West Kilbride. Yes! Bar & Restaurant is based in Irvine.
Who is it selling to?
Hotel guests come from all over the UK, both leisure and corporate clients. The hotel restaurants all draw on local markets. On the Leisure and Spa Day, guests come from the surroundings of Ayrshire and the central belt.
What is its turnover?
Bookings across our portfolio remain stable for the rest of the year. We saw an increase in bookings when we reopened after the lockdown, taking advantage of the stay market, and since May we have continued to see increases across the group year over year. With the opening of the new £ 2million spa at The Gailes, we are also seeing an increase in leisure stay bookings.
Most bookings at SimpsInns hotels currently come from UK based clients and we have certainly seen a drop in the number of clients from Europe and America who would normally have visited the Ayrshire coast on golf stays . However, we are now starting to see signs of returning overseas customers to hotels with several large group bookings over the coming month.
How many employees does it have?
As a result of investments and growth across the business, SimpsInns has seen its workforce grow from 228 before the pandemic to 295 today. We were fortunate not to have to fire anyone, with staff remaining on leave until we could reopen. At present, we do not have staff on leave and are still recruiting for various positions within our group.
When was he formed?
What were you doing before you started?
I worked in management dealing mainly with HR and training for a multinational hotel chain. Over twenty years ago my wife and I took over the Old Loans Inn in the village of Loans just outside Troon. Since then, we have evolved our history as a brand, expanding and expanding where we can, while still remaining a truly family-owned business.
How did you raise the start-up funds?
What was your biggest break?
Make the decision to develop and build The Gailes Hotel & Spa. We have just made a significant investment in renovating the spa into what we believe to be a state-of-the-art wellness center. This is a project of which we are extremely proud and we hope it will attract visitors from all over the Central Belt for day trips and from the rest of Scotland for overnight packages. We have also installed a new pavilion at Les Gailes to meet the huge demand for weddings. We had already made the decision to create more of a leisure destination before the pandemic, and despite some disruption to this plan, we are very happy with the outcome.
What was your worst moment?
When Covid-19 closed all of our sites. Like many hospitality companies, the challenges posed by the pandemic have been important to us as a business. However, it also presented opportunities. Over the past 18 months, we’ve invested heavily in our portfolio of sites to really take the offering to the next level. It was not our original intention, but we simply decided to take advantage of this closing window. We will never again have the opportunity to refurbish without disrupting service. We wanted to be in the spotlight when we were able to reopen. The result is quite a transformation of space, especially at Les Gailes.
What do you like most about running the business?
The human element – whether it’s our guests or our brilliant SimpsInns team at all of our locations. Our location is also excellent. Being on the Ayrshire coast we are surrounded by lots of fresh air, beaches, walking and cycling.
What do you like the least?
I don’t like external political influences on the industry.
Who is your biggest monster?
The culture of discounts.
What are your ambitions for the firm?
We see ourselves continuing to develop and expand recreation, spa and accommodations across all of our locations. You must continue to look to the future.
What could the Westminster and / or Scottish governments do to help?
Review non-domestic taxation and VAT.
With government assistance to hotel companies which have been one of the hardest hit industries throughout the pandemic, we have seen our VAT rate drop to 5%. Despite an extension of this, we will soon see this increase to 12.5% followed by a return to 20% in April 2022. With the UK having one of the highest VAT rates in the EU, I would like to see a review of these rates to continue to help companies recover from the effects of the past 18 months.
Non-national rates are currently suspended for hospitality due to the pandemic; however, I would like to see a reduction in those rates in order to reduce the burden across the industry.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned?
Work hard if you want to be successful. This is something that I live my life to date.
How do you relax?
I love going out on the golf course, walking and skiing, and the occasional gym when I think about it.