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Gainford Hotels Ltd buys historic Bradford property
Nearly 50 jobs were finally secured last night as Bradford's historic Great Victoria hotel was sold almost two years after its previous owners called in administrators.
In a move that ended years of uncertainty and rumours, the new owners said they were committed to putting the 70-bedroom hotel back on the map as a prestige venue after it “ticked over” while in administration.
North-East-based Gainford Hotels Ltd has retained Simon Grybus as the Great Victoria’s general manager, citing his record as one of the reasons it bought the hotel. The deal has secured nearly 50 staff jobs.
The acquisition marks Gainford’s first move outside its operating area across the North East.
The Chester-le-Street-based company operates 13 care homes in the region and branched out into hotel ownership in April through buying the four-star Vermont Hotel in Newcastle city centre .
Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, Gainford group accountant Glenn Martin said the firm was confident that the Bradford venue had a bright future.
He declined to say how much it had paid, but the Great Victoria was on the market at an asking price of £2.1 million.
“One of the attractions was that the previous owners had invested heavily in refurbishing and upgrading the Great Victoria,” he said. “It has some fantastic luxury accommodation and function rooms. We believe the hotel has a great future.
“Also, we were keen to retain Simon Grybus as general manager because of his excellent record.
“We will carry out work where it needs to be done, but the hotel is generally in good shape.
“We will work to raise its profile, which dropped during the administration, and proactively market it as a prestige venue.”
Mr Martin said plans for the Great Victoria included creating a self-contained bar and a decked patio area outside the front of the hotel.
Bradford-based Tomahawk Hotels Ltd, which also owned the Woodlands in Leeds and Aston Hall in Sheffield, lavished millions of pounds on the Great Victoria after buying it in 2005, including a £1 million refurbishment of the formerly disused fourth floor to provide 13 luxury loft suites and rooms.
Mr Grybus said: “This is great for us and great for Bradford.
“The hotel has been in limbo for the past couple of years with rumours about us closing. It’s been very difficult but now we can plan ahead. What we need now is for the people of Bradford to support us “I’m delighted to be staying and it’s a tribute to my team that Gainford Hotels has bought the Great Victoria and plans to continue investing in it.”
The sale was handled by specialist hospitality and leisure agents at Edward Symmons, which has also found buyers for the two other venues previously belonging to Tomahawk.
Hugh Anderson, partner at Edward Symmons, said: “We are delighted to announce the sale of The Great Victoria Hotel. The sale price achieved reflects the quality of the asset and the continued demand for good quality regional hotels in the market.”
The ‘Victoria’, as it was originally called, was built in 1867 at a cost of £30,000 by a company chaired by Bradford MP and dyeworks magnate Henry Ripley.
It was built as a railway hotel to serve the former Exchange station opposite. In 1892 it became the Great Northern Victoria after being bought by the Great Northern Railway Company. It was bought by Frederick Hotels Ltd in 1952.
The hotel had a major refurbishment in the 1980s under the ownership of Trusthouse Forte.