Ireland’s largest hotel operator today reported trading in the first four months of the year as being “marginally ahead of expectations” following significant growth in 2016.

Dalata Hotel Group said progress was being made in a development pipeline of 1,200 new hotel rooms, including properties in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Newcastle.

Providing an update to coincide with the company’s annual meeting, chairman John Hennessy indicated that the group planned further expansion in the UK.

“We continue to look for opportunities to purchase the freehold interest of some of our existing hotels in Ireland,” he said.

“We are also looking to expand our Clayton and Maldron brands in the UK and are encouraged by the current pipeline of potential opportunities.”

Reviewing the year to date, Hennessy said: “Following another year of significant growth in the size of our portfolio and earnings in 2016, trading performance in the first four months of 2017 has been marginally ahead of expectations.

“Revpar [revenue per available room] growth in our Dublin and Regional Ireland properties has been in line with expectations.

“We have experienced strong Revpar growth in our London and Northern Ireland portfolios. Revpar growth in our provincial UK properties has been marginally ahead of expectations.

“Management is very satisfied with the trading performance of the group’s hotel portfolio in the first four months of the year. The outlook remains positive for the markets in which we operate.”

He added: “Investment in the Clayton and Maldron brands continues with a targeted capital refurbishment programme and brand awareness campaigns.

“We also continue to invest in the training and development of our people as they are key to our continued growth and performance.

“2017 will see further investment in information technology to deliver ongoing improvements in internal controls, the quality of management information and process efficiencies.”