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Sundial back in the black but expects a ‘flat’ 2015

Group of conference hotels, venue finding and team building companies posts pre-tax profit of £126k for 2014

Sundial's Barnett Hill, the first conference hotel in the UK to become a Living Wage accredited employer

Sundial Group has returned to profit 12 months after posting a £500k loss.

The group, consisting of conference hotels, venue finding and team building companies, made a pre-tax profit of £126k for the year to 31 December 2014, a marked improvement on the previous year’s figures which saw turnover fall to £8.7million and a pre-tax loss of £560k. Turnover also recovered in 2014, reaching £9.4m while administrative expenses were slashed by £100k, thanks in part to a review of technology and connectivity suppliers for Sundial’s three dedicated meeting venues – Highgate House in Northamptonshire, Barnett Hill in Surrey and Woodside in Warwickshire.

The Group has also renegotiated its finance agreement with Barclays until the end of 2019, MD Tim Chudley said.

He added that the company has seen the benefits of investment made following a share rights issue that raised £500k in late 2013.

“It was a very encouraging year. We have invested a lot of time and effort in marketing,” he said. “We launched a new website in 2014 which has had an impact, and we have been working with an external consultant on search engine optimisation.

“Last year, we saw a return to our core business of residential learning and development. After six or seven years of not being committed to middle and senior management training, corporates have realised that getting people together in a dedicated environment is the best way of doing it.”

Sundial has also taken the industry lead on CSR issues, and Barnett Hill this year became the first conference hotel in the country to become an accredited Living Wage Foundation employer, while Chudley was named a Living Wage Champion by the Foundation for his vocal support of the rate of pay and the M&IT and ABPCO Living Wage for Live Events campaign.

“We are able to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace,” Chudley added. “Corporates can see the value of dedicated training and we are seen as an alternative.”

Chudley did note that the 2015 results were expected to reflect ‘flat’ trading conditions, with May’s General Election cited as a factor. “It has not been as strong as we thought it would,” he added. “I am encouraged by the bookings for 2016, though, in our core business of corporate learning and development.”

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