Lesley Reynolds, Managing Director of our Hospitality, Travel, Leisure & Sport Sector, reviews the successes and changes in 2016, and looks forward to 2017 with optimism.


Sporting success on and off the field

Sport experienced a very interesting 2016. On the field, this included Britain's huge success at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, the turnaround of the England Rugby team and the Leicester fairy tale win of the Premier League. Off the field, the global sports industry continues to change rapidly, particularly through digital transformation increasing fan engagement and performance technology. This in turn has fuelled the growth of a whole range of start-ups and SMEs, as well as increasing the attraction of Sport leadership roles to executives from a wide range of other sectors.  During 2016 we concluded work with numerous sports governing bodies, with eight Premier League football clubs and with several businesses associated with horse-racing, rugby, cricket and golf.

Olympic Rings
“The global sports industry continues to change rapidly, particularly through digital transformation”

2017 looks to be another exciting year across the sporting landscape with the prospects of growth in elite level football in China, the continued advancement of technology and within the UK, the ever increasing levels of international ownership of professional teams.

High level placements across the globe

Within the Restaurant and Food Retail Sector our network helped us to grow our presence within Europe where our London and Frankfurt offices collaborated on several projects. We also continued to build strong relationships with private equity houses and other significant investors. CEO and COO roles were completed across all geographies as well as key functional appointments, notably in Marketing and Finance.

Active Leisure Sector - a key area for Mergers & Acquisitions in 2017

Brexit Flags AWithin the Active Leisure sector, we saw increased hiring of senior individuals as companies strengthened leadership and scaled brands across the UK and internationally. This particular sector is likely to become a key area for M&A over the coming 12-18 months as these businesses become more sophisticated in how they operate and market themselves. We also saw an increase in PSD's activity at board level with executive and non-executive appointments for both current and potential investments.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly during 2016, Brexit played a part by reducing M&A activity and encouraging a cautious outlook on headcount in the second half of the year. We expect this slower rate of deal-flow to continue in the first half of 2017 for mid-cap investments, whilst valuations and expectations of current ownership adjusts to a more palatable level for prospective investors.

Optimism for 2017

Moving forward, the weakness of Sterling will present an opportunity for global investors and international trade buyers, as was the case with the occasional transaction in 2016. Overall we are looking forward to 2017 with optimism.  The year is unlikely to be without challenges for all Hospitality sub-sectors with staffing and other costs rising. As a result it will be critical for businesses to ensure they have the appropriate senior talent in the right place  - and early enough - so plans are delivered and challenges overcome.

“It will be critical for businesses to ensure they have the appropriate senior talent in the right place - and early enough - so plans are delivered and challenges overcome.”

Hotel Sunny Grounds

Demand for General Managers

It is impossible to generalise regarding the Hotel market for 2016 - the international corporate market was affected from a recruitment perspective by the two big mergers - Accor with FRHI, and Marriott with Starwood.  Both organisations' restructuring has meant that some very high quality corporate and regional talent has come to market.  Meanwhile, at corporately owned hotel property level, the demand for high quality DOS and revenue professionals remains high.  Regardless of M&A activity, every hotel needs a strong leader, and at PSD demand for General Managers across the UK and Europe remained strong throughout the year. 2016 was PSD's strongest year since 2008. We enjoyed supporting hotel companies at all levels in the hiring of top quality General Managers and remain very optimistic for 2017.

“2016 was PSD's strongest year since 2008 … and we remain very optimistic for 2017.”