COSTLEY & Costley, the Ayrshire-based hotel group, has returned to profit, boosted by the return from capital investment made to develop its properties in preceding years.

The operator, whose portfolio includes the Lochgreen and Brig o‘Doon hotels, booked a pre-tax profit of £113,456 for the year ended September 30, accounts newly filed at Companies House show. Led by classically-trained chef Bill Costley, alongside wife Cath and son Andrew, the firm booked a loss of £128,614 the year before, when increased costs and competition across the sector hit the bottom line.

The firm’s latest accounts show that turnover increased by 1.3% to £10.1 million, which, in addition to cost control measures, helped lift the company’s gross profit margin up by 0.8% to 70.1%. This was despite conditions continuing to be challenging in the hospitality market.

Writing in the accounts, Mr Costley, who attended cooking school in Versailles, said: “The directors continue to focus on improving the quality and service associated with the Costley brand to further enhance customer experience.

“The extensive programme of capital investment carried out throughout the group in 2016 and 2017 has generated improvements in both turnover and profit in 2018.”

Mr Costley, who began his career at the Caledonian Hotel in Ayr, added: “It is anticipated that the group will continue to see the benefits of the capital investment into this current year with both turnover and profit expected to improve.”

In an interview with The Herald in August, Mr Costley revealed his aspiration to add a swimming pool and new banqueting facility at Lochgreen, a popular wedding venue. He underlined his ambition to further develop the properties in the firm’s in the accounts, stating: “A further investment of £200,000 has been approved to develop the restaurant at the group’s five-star property at Lochgreen House Hotel. The programme of investment is ongoing with future plans to develop the Lochgreen House Hotel banqueting facilities.”

Mr Costley has been a vocal critic of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), and worries that restrictions on the ability of Scottish hotels to recruit staff from within the bloc will harm the sector.

He told The Herald in August: “I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to [leave the EU],” Mr Costley said.

“I don’t get it at all. I’d prefer a federal Europe to be honest.”