The Entrepreneurs’ Forum Awards was a very successful event. Why did you support such a worthwhile cause?
We have been active members of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum for a number of years and in 2013, I was awarded the runner up spot in its ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ category. We very much recognise the positive contribution a high profile, business forum – where people can work collectively with a strong membership ‘voice’ – can bring to the North East business community. Apart from us being mentors to a number of the forum’s members in our own right, we also sponsor the Mentor of the Year award each year, in recognition of the value that we place on this incredibly important role.
Does this cement your commitment to the North East?
We’d like to think so, but it’s much more than that. Our strong connection with the region dates back over 35 years, albeit our group as we know it today commenced its trading activities some 26 years ago. We started as a family business, but we are very much now a family in business firmly headquartered in Newcastle. We remain wholly committed to the future and prosperity of the region.
What are the driving forces behind your vision and values?
Our vision is to be recognised as a market leader in the provision of care and leisure through continued investment in our businesses and in our people. We believe that without a clear and documented vision it’s difficult for staff, customers and stakeholders alike to know exactly what the business is aspiring to achieve. Without certain values in place to underpin the vision, then it can only ever be a dream. Our growth and future prosperity will, we feel, come by bringing together true corporate ethics with recognisable family values.
How and when did the Malhotra Group commence its activities?
In 1991 we formed the group’s originally named company of UGC Holdings Ltd at a time when we acquired the landmark Parrish Court building in Shields Road, Byker. Many further property acquisitions followed principally for investment purposes. Although our first interests within the care sector dates back to the 1980s, it was also in 1991 that the group acquired its first care home facility in Gateshead with a further care home acquisition in Sunderland a year later. During the financial turmoil of 2007/8 we also started to land bank a number of sites for future development. Over the years, we have also acquired premium buildings in Grey Street, Northumberland Street, Blackett Street and Cloth Market with a plan to help bring these back to their former glory.
How many sectors are you involved in? Will you move into other sectors?
The three principal divisions within the group are care, leisure and property. Within our care division we own and operate 12 care home facilities, operating under our brand name of Prestwick Care, and also have three sites under various stages of development for future care facilities. Within our leisure division we own and operate a fairly eclectic mix of sites embracing hotels, a back-packing hostel, bars, restaurants and amusement arcades. In the property division we have a portfolio of commercial investment properties located around the North of England.
What have been the key stepping stones in the development and investment process?
It’s fair to say that over the years we have grown and evolved from both a mix of planned organic growth as well as acquisitions as and when these have become available. We are not shy in taking bold decisions and chances to help facilitate this growth, but we have always sought top professional advice along the way that has held us in good stead.
Which are the main active developments and which ones will be completed in 2018 and 2019?
We have recently completed a full refurbishment of our Grey Street Hotel which we are very proud of. We are currently on site in Alnwick and Ryhope, Sunderland and Whitley Bay with new care home facilities and are building a hotel on our Three Mile Inn site in Gosforth that will complement our existing facilities there. During 2018 we shall be commencing work on three existing leisure sites in and around Newcastle.
Will 2018 be a good year for the region or do you have concerns over Brexit, for example, or the issue of regional devolution?
We feel there will continue to be levels of uncertainty and anxiety in the market place over the next 12 months or so while regional devolution starts to show its hand, and whilst Brexit starts to provide improved levels of clarity that we all urgently desire. However, as we have shown over the years, during uncertain times opportunities and new business markets will undoubtedly emerge.