What a difference three years can make.

Back in the summer of 2020, Apex Hotels entered a period of consultation with staff over proposed redundancies, after sustaining the “severe impact” of Covid lockdowns on trade. Now, after enduring the pandemic and the many challenges that have come in its wake, the company is in rude health.

Family-owned Apex, which owns hotels in Bath, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, and Pitlochry, made an initial return to profit for the first time since the pandemic broke out in the year ended April 30, 2022, a period that ended with the business trading free from restrictions. It has now followed that with an even stronger performance, with resurgent demand from business and leisure guests propelling a period of “exceptional growth”, culminating in an operating profit of £14.5m.

Chief executive Angela Vickers said today that the company had “built upon strong foundations in 2022, with a renewed confidence in the market as demand from our UK and international guests returns”.

And she emphasised that Apex was in the mood to maintain the momentum with an “ambitious acquisition strategy that will help and diversify our portfolio, delivering more choice through a wider range of destinations for our guests”.

The firm recently made a notable acquisition in that regard, buying the Pine Trees Hotels in Pitlochry as it looked to take the Apex brand into more rural locations.

Shortly before, the hotelier had sold the Apex London Wall Hotel, and said it would use the proceeds to fund investment in its portfolio and develop its staff.

Of course, the pressure on the tourism and hospitality sector remains intense. Only this week, a survey from the Scottish Tourism Alliance found nearly half (48%) of respondents reported decreased profits as the cost-of-doing business crisis continues to be felt. And in most of those cases, the STA found, profits were down 10% or more.

An earlier survey, published by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association in early October, found that 57% if outlets had experienced a year-on-year decline in bottom-line performance.

Against the backdrop of such challenging trading circumstances, the performance of Apex, and its commitment to growth, is all the more impressive.