Food-focused hotel chain satisfies its hunger for growth

Home Grown Hotels has refurbished their premises in the South of England, and Santander has supported them every step of the way.

In brief

  • Company name: Home Grown Hotels 
  • Sector: Hotels/Hospitality 
  • Management team from Home Grown Hotels have carved out a profitable niche within the hospitality sector with its ‘Pig’ brand of hotels, which combine boutique hospitality with a British garden food dining experience.
  • With one site in the portfolio, the company was looking to add a further five sites to its portfolio within the next five years.
  • Through a close working relationship, the Santander team shared the company’s vision and provided them with a simple funding package of £4.8 million to refurbish two new sites.
  • The chance to acquire a fourth property arose the following year and Santander was able to respond quickly to secure its purchase, having already taken the time to understand the company’s portfolio and its vision for growth.
  • With four hotels now trading, boosting the company’s market share and trebling expected revenue, Home Grown Hotels are now progressing towards fulfilling their growth plans, and Santander aims to take them the rest of the way.
Home Grown Hotels

Management firm Home Grown Hotels has achieved rapid growth by offering a unique take on hospitality. Their expanding portfolio of hotels known as ‘Pigs’ combines a British garden food dining experience with stylish yet informal guest rooms. Home Grown Hotels CEO Robin Hutson founded the company in 2011 with his first ‘Pig’ appearing in the New Forest.

Home Grown Hotels continued their award winning formula the following year with the launch of The Pig In The Wall in Southampton. The company also went on to purchase a National Trust-owned hotel on the Jurassic coast of Dorset, taking another step in the company’s ambitious plan to add five more hotels to its portfolio within the next five years.

More pigs, please

“We wanted to open more ‘Pigs’ and we spoke to a number of banks about funding,” says Home Grown Hotels’ Finance Director Mike Rice. “But the country was in the midst of recession, so there was a lot of caution in the market at the time.”

Home Grown Hotels needed a funding package to complete refurbishment of their hotels in Southampton and Dorset, as well as ensure the purchase of future sites. Ultimately, they needed a bank that would take the time to understand their vision. “We began to talk to Santander in 2012,” says Mike. “They were very keen to work with us.”

A shared vision

Santander Relationship Director Mike Donaldson recalls there was an immediate affinity between the bank and the company. “We shared their vision, and there was also a ‘chemistry’ at a personal level” he says. “We were also very impressed by the quality of the product and by the track record of the owners and the management team.”

Similarly impressed by the company’s rapid growth, positive customer feedback, and strong brand presence, the Santander team provided a funding package worth £4.8 million. A portion of this funding went to complete the refurbishment of The Pig In The Wall, while the rest went towards developing The Pig On The Beach site in Dorset. During the course of these developments, an unexpected opportunity suddenly arose.

An unexpected development

The owners of an attractive country house near Bath were looking to sell. Fortunately, Santander had already taken the time to fully understand the company’s portfolio and establish a good relationship, enabling them to make a fair decision to provide a further £4.75 million in funding for this new acquisition.

Home Grown Hotels’ Mike Rice believes Santander’s responsiveness proves the bank are more interested in long-term growth for the benefit of the customer rather than scoring a quick win for the short-term benefit of the bank. “As the bank was already funding The Pig On The Beach it would have been very easy for them to decline funding for our fourth premises,” he says. “But they have always been positive and we see them as a very easy bank to work with.”

Solid support

Throughout the unpredictable process of negotiating hotel purchases and completing refurbishments, Santander’s Relationship Director was unfailingly supportive, as Mike Rice explains. “Mike Donaldson’s support has been invaluable,” he says. “He is always enthusiastic and helpful.”

With The Pig Near Bath opening in March 2014 and The Pig On The Beach opening three months later, Home Grown Hotels is currently riding high on its Santander-fuelled success. “By the end of this year we will have four hotels and the plan is to open two more in 2015 and 2016,” says Mike. The company already expects to see its turnover treble, having now doubled its number of trading locations in the South and boosted its already considerable market share. And Santander will stand by the company as it takes further steps on its growth journey.

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