Balmoral Group, the Aberdeen-based conglomerate founded by Sir Jim Milne in 1980, is expanding into the hospitality sector with the acquisition of the five-star Marcliffe Hotel.

Marcliffe managing director Ross Spence - who took charge of the popular Aberdeen wedding and conference venue when his father Stewart retired in 2021 - said Balmoral is a "perfect fit" for the hotel going forward. The sale is expected to complete by the end of this month with no changes to staffing or event and hotel bookings.

"While it’s bittersweet to think we may soon be handing over the keys to The Marcliffe, we know that Balmoral are the perfect fit to continue its legacy," Mr Spence said.

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"As long-time custodians of The Marcliffe brand, our family has cherished and nurtured it with love and dedication. So much of our lives have been spent here and the staff and regular customers have become family over the years – Sir Jim is part of that.

"We are confident that Balmoral will honour The Marcliffe’s heritage and care for it with the same passion and commitment that has been at the heart of our family so that the hotel will thrive for decades more."

Balmoral has interests in engineering solutions for the offshore sector, water storage, and property development. The move into hospitality is said to follow several years of growth and diversification to acquire market-leading businesses that align with the group's values of "excellence, integrity and customer focus".

Sir Jim said maintaining quality and standards at the Marcliffe is of the "utmost importance" to Balmoral Group.

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“The Marcliffe is an Aberdeen institution, and is an establishment very close to my heart," he added.

"I’ve known the Spence family for a long time, and it feels like a natural progression for Balmoral Group. Stewart is recognised as one of the best hoteliers in Scotland, and it’s through his work that we have strong foundations to continue his legacy.”

The Marcliffe was opened in 1993 by Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, who was in the city to receive the Freedom of Aberdeen. The hotel has long been a favourite of former first minister Alex Salmond and has been the backdrop for a number of high profile events.

Acting as an investor, Balmoral Group has appointed Effective Hospitality Management (EHM) to operate the hotel in collaboration with the Marcliffe team. Balmoral will continue on ongoing refurbishment programme at the hotel.