Albwardy in Meikles Hotel shake-up

…As MD Carol White leaves

TINASHE MAKICHI

Meikles Hotel MD Carol White has left the company as Dubai-based billionaire, Ali Albwardy, undertakes a shakeup, a month after completing the US$20m of the acquisition of one of Zimbabwe’s oldest hotels.

Business Times also heard that the shake-up will claim other top executives and contract workers as the new investor infuse new blood and expertise in the running of the hotel which was established in 1915.

Meikles Hotel, which has a rich history in the hospitality industry is the largest five-star hotel in Central Harare, Zimbabwe, with 312 guest bedrooms, two restaurants, and high-quality leisure facilities.

A well-placed source told this publication that there is growing fear among other managers whose position remains unclear.

“Albwardy has made it clear that he will be bringing a new culture and management at the hotel.

That means a majority of people in management are going to lose jobs,” a source said.

“There is going to be a new broom at the hotel and all contract workers have since been relieved of their duties.

Managing Director Carol White has since left her position at the helm.”

Meikles Hotel commercial director Thamsanqa Mpofu’s mobile phone was not reachable.

Meikles Hotel has over the past two decades been impacted by relatively low occupancy rates and a subsequent lack of investment in refurbishment and back of house services.

In order for the hotel to compete with other leading hotels in southern Africa, foreign currency-denominated long term capital, the scale of which cannot be provided by Meikles Limited is needed.

The investment will finance the modernisation of the whole operation, as well as general infrastructure improvements, which will restore it to international Five-Star standards.

The disposal of the Meikles Hotel is set to increase the group’s profitability, due to lower debt funding requirements from the continual capital expenditure to fund the ongoing refurbishment and upgrade of the Meikles Hotel.

The sale will also culminate in a strengthened Meikles Limited’s balance sheet that will allow the group to unlock considerable value to all of Meikles’ shareholders while also leading to the transformation of the Meikles Hotel, under the ultimate ownership of Albwardy Investment, into a leading regional hotel.

This will secure the long term viability of the Hotel and its associated businesses, as well as dramatically enhancing and improving Harare’s Central Business District.

Following the sale of Meikles Hotel, Meikles Limited will seek to generate further value in its remaining assets through the re-investment of the proceeds from the transaction in the agriculture and hospitality segments of the Group’s other businesses.

The transaction has already received regulatory approvals from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, Competition and Tariff Commission and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Exchange Control.

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