Family-owned Macdonald Hotels returned to profitability last year with a gain of nearly £45.8 million on the sale of two of its major properties.

Latest Companies House accounts filed on behalf of the group, which was set up in 1990 by Scottish hotel entrepreneur Donald Macdonald, show a pre-tax profit of £44.5m for the year to September 2022. That compared to a loss of £15.2m previously.

The company booked the £45.8m gain on the sale of its 156-bedroom Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh and the 338-bedroom Macdonald Manchester Hotel to funds managed by London-based private equity group Zetland Capital Partners.

READ MORE: Macdonald Hotels sells Macdonald Holyrood and Macdonald Manchester

In February of this year it sold a third property, Ansty Hall in Warwickshire, for an undisclosed sum to Exclusive Collection. That deal was quickly followed by the refinancing of £51.3m of debt in a five-year financing facility with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.

"Both of these events marked progress in the implementation of our strategy as we seek to develop many of the sites within our remaining portfolio of 27 hotels, nine resorts and residential and other development opportunities at over 20 of our sites," the company said.

Commenting on the year to September 2022, directors said business continued to be impacted by Covid with government restrictions, particularly in Scotland, impairing trading from December 2021 through to February 2022. However, staycation demand remained strong throughout the summer despite the re-opening of international travel.

"With continued uncertainty during the period to September 2022 as a result of Covid-19, the group remained focused on maintaining a close control of costs, which was supported by government schemes including business rates relief," the company said.

READ MORE: Scottish hotel group Macdonald in blockbuster sale deal

"The reduced VAT rate of 12.5% until March 2022 helped to drive growth in room rates, and strong demand throughout the summer as a result of the UK-wide staycation bounce drove substantial leisure growth, with room rates increasing well beyond pre-Covid levels. 

"Our strategy of closely controlling costs, couple with strong rate-driven sales growth, has helped to improve profitability, ultimately improving cash generation within the business."

With trading continuing to improve in the current year, and with the strengthened cash position, directors noted that their financial statement was prepared on a "going concern" basis. The group had 2,272 employees and 210 contracted staff as of September 2022.