Magazine article Management Today

The Human Factor

Magazine article Management Today

The Human Factor

Article excerpt

For Rocco Forte, putting his name over the door of his new enterprise gave a clear indication that this was a matter of pride rather than just money.

It was with the air of an exiled ruler reclaiming his territory that Sir Rocco Forte marched back into Mayfair this summer. In buying Brown's Hotel, he had not merely brought his new firm into London; he'd acquired a property that was once almost his birthright.

Since Forte lost his historic battle with Sir Gerry Robinson and Forte plc was taken over by Granada in 1996, he has seemed determined to prove he was misjudged. The City voted against him, handing control of the empire he'd inherited to Robinson.

Now one can almost hear the triumphant note in his voice as he retrieves control of one of the more prestigious properties in the group.

The wish to prove one's critics wrong can be a strong motivation. Every time Philip Green is lauded as a retail hero, one can imagine him rejoicing in the message this sends to those who unseated him as boss of public company Amber Day.

Some people take rejection as the signal to retire from the fray, but others will see it as a challenge to prove their critics wrong. Forte put himself in the latter camp. Once THF had been delivered to Granada, with the help of major shareholder Mercury Asset Management, he dusted down his velvet-collared coat and started to build a new business.

Putting his name over the door of the new enterprise was a clear indication that this was a matter of pride and reputation rather than money. Rocco Forte Hotels is not a reincarnation of the group of which he has been CEO - the business his indomitable father had built up from a single coffee bar into one of the world's biggest hotel firms. Instead, RFH is concentrating on the luxury end of the market.

Forte had tried to persuade Robinson to sell him back the Meridien division of Forte group and raised pounds 970 million to fund the deal. But Robinson dismissed the price as too low. Forte has set about assembling his chain piecemeal, picking up properties around Europe - Brown's brings the total to eight.

Difficult conditions have hit the hotel industry, terrorism and Sars combining to persuade Americans in particular that it is safer to stay at home. But occupancy at the hand-picked RFH collection has held up well, and now Forte regards the depression in hotel prices as a buying opportunity.

Backed by Bank of Scotland, he aims to speed up his acquisitions and take the total to 20 fairly rapidly. …

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