Livingstone Brothers’ Property Empire Hits £3.7bn After Hotel Buying Spree

Billionaire property moguls the Livingstone brothers have cemented their position as one of the country’s richest families after a decision to snap up more hotels saw the value of their empire soar last year.

Ian and Richard, who have an estimated fortune of £3.8 billion, went on a spending spree in 2016 and 2017, buying the luxury Grayshott Health Spa in Surrey and 47 Holiday Inn Express sites.

Accounts filed by Loopsign, the parent of their London & Regional property development business, credit “continued expansion into hotel operations” for helping to boost revenues in the year to September 2017.

Turnover jumped 55.6% to £540 million and the value of the portfolio rose to £3.7 billion from £3.4 billion.

Pre-tax profit shrank to £49 million from £280 million, but that was due to much smaller rises in property values than in previous years, the Evening Standard reported.

In the current financial year so far, Marylebone-headquartered London & Regional has been selected as a partner to help regenerate Albert Island in the Royal Docks area. The masterplan for the site includes development of a commercial boatyard, redevelopment of the existing marina in the northern part of the site and housing around the southern part facing the Thames.

The company also sold Thames Wharf Studios, home to the River Café, for around £40 million to RPMI Railpen, the British investment manager for the Railways Pension Scheme. RMPI Railpen said the 46,706 square foot space, which comprises offices and homes, has scope for further development, “adding to its long-term value and helping us to meet our mission to pay members’ pensions securely, affordably and sustainably”.

The brothers – who operate the Cliveden Hotel where Meghan Markle stayed before her wedding in May to Prince Harry – recently paid £96 million for the 238-room Hotel MdR in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles.

This just this month, the company completed the letting of a flagship Oxford St retail unit overlooking Marble Arch to Footlocker. The store is to open in late July 2018.

The Livingstone brothers launched their business empire by purchasing the David Clulow opticians chain out of receivership in the early 1990s, before moving onto hotels.

Their portfolio includes the £435-a-night Chewton Glen in the New Forest and the Hilton on Park Lane. They also own the Empire Leicester Square, which has played host to numerous film premieres, and the former M&S headquarters in Baker Street.

The Livingstone brothers’ acquisition of 47 Holiday Inn Express hotels for £575 million represented a departure from their traditional focus on luxury. Run by Atlas Hotels and put up for sale by owner Lone Star, the budget hotels were said to have been attractive to the brothers because the budget hotel sector has proved to be highly profitable and resilient even while the economy has stuttered.

The brothers are currently part of a consortium of firms working on a giant residential project in Panama City, building 20,000 homes.

DealMakerz thinks the latest set of accounts shows how investment savvy the Livingstone brothers are.

The budget hotel sector, in particular, has soared in recent times, with more volume and variety of properties coming onto the market.

Occupancy rates rose by 2.6% in London and 1-2% in the provinces in 2017, according to RG Group.

The trend for “staycations” has also had an impact on helping to boost the popularity of UK holidays.

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