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Transforming A 91-year-Old Colonial Hotel In Northern Nigeria

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True Nigerian Experience Interview with Barrister Nasser Ahmed

1. Central Hotel Kano was privatized and handed over to Broadfields Intermediaries Limited in 2002. Kindly run us through the Post Acquisition Plan under your management?

The main theme of the Post Acquisition Plan with the Bureau for Public Enterprises was “to rebuild the hotel into being pride and income to all stakeholders concerned and cater for the business and recreational needs of corporations, individuals, diplomatic community and visitors in the Kano city area. At the end of the development, a land mark area would have been developed assuring stakeholders of quality facilities that would compete with hospitality centres in South Africa and other parts of North Africa.”

To achieve this, the hotel had to be shut down completely, Management Agreements signed initially with Intercontinental Hotel Group (to use the Holiday Inn brand) and funds initially sourced locally but later refinanced under the Construction/Tourism Linked Relay Facility Programme of the Africa Export Import Bank of Cairo. An initial sum of $15 Million USD was drawn with support from NEXIM Bank and two other local Banks.

The redevelopment of the first phase was completed in 2011. This is the position, until recently when we signed a long management Agreement with a big African brand with international support system called BON Hotels. Being the first formal hotel in Nigeria and a place the Queen of England chose to stay in 1956, we are on the road for a complete refurbishment to meet current international standards with its preferred Interior parties like Delta Interiors South Africa. This arrangement will meet our vision of making the Hotel and Kano the destination of Hospitality in Northern Nigeria.

And we believe we have the pedigree to handle the task. I was a Director at Transcorp Hilton Abuja for over 13 years and my team all have background from our Abuja hospitality Centre Protea Hotel Apo. Funding has been a challenge, especially with pressure from impatient lenders. We however cherish the support of some institutions and their people like Professor B.O. Oramah now President of the Afreximbank Bank, my all-time late hero Mr. Tayo Aderinokun Co-founder and then Managing Director Guraranty Trust Bank Plc and Nexim Bank.

2. There are plans to situate a 5-star-floor Shopping mall within the complex of the hotel. Can you tell us how far you have gone with this plan?

We have had the design completed. We had held meetings with Numetro (known for Cinemas) in South Africa and Shoprite. But their special needs in terms of space and anchor tenants meant that by 2011 we deferred the project until the main hotel was finished and properly branded and run. Therefore, by the Management with BON Hotels signed, the new international partner has both capacity as operators and anchor capacities like shopping mall.

3. The Nigerian Stock Exchange has called for public listing of privatized State-Owned Enterprises. Is there any plan to go in that direction?

Yes. We will be going to the Nigerian Stock Exchange probably by the end of 2021. This is because the rule is that you need to have been in profitable operations for at least four years before you can go to the market so that people will know your track-record. And hopefully, by the first quarter of 2022, we will be quoted on the NSE.

4. Nigeria has recently witnessed influx of Global Hospitability brands. Do you intend to partner any for efficiency and standards?

Yes. We have signed with BON Hotels. The Group has excellent people of pedigree like Mr Otto Stehlik and Mr Bernard Cassar both of whom were the brains behind the creation and growth of Protea Hotels (before the sale to Marriott International in 2014).

I have personal experience working with international brands having served as Director at Abuja Hilton for 13 years and Protea SA for 11 years. The advantages of such partnerships are tremendous and we value such collaborations for sustainable growth.

For more information please visit :

www.grandcentralhotelkano.com

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