db Group Chairman and Managing Director Silvio Debono has affirmed that the hospitality group always strives to “relentlessly pursue” its objectives until they are fully completed.
His comments came in the Annual Report for 2023 of SD Holdings Limited, db Group’s holding company, where it announced €70.8 million in revenue for the financial year ending 31st March 2023, representing a 75.4 per cent increase from the €40.4 million recorded at the end of the same period in 2022. The major increase came about primarily due to the improvement in performance from its hospitality and leisure segment, which enjoyed a 10 per cent increase in revenue. This prompted the group’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to rise by 24.4 per cent from €24.4 million to €30.4 million.
This comes as the company undergoes expansion both locally and internationally. Right after the end of the 2023 financial year, db Group received a positive outcome in a court case for its planned City Centre project in St George’s Bay, St Julian’s, on the former site of the Institute for Tourism Studies, which is currently under development. Additionally, the company is also dipping its toes in the international market through the opening of a new restaurant in London, which is set to open its doors in 2024.
Mr Debono stated that db Group has garnered a reputation as “doers in the hospitality and leisure sector” over the years. He noted that it is the company’s vision that “sparks this unwavering determination”, taking it forward and shaping its actions.
“We confidently live and achieve in the present because our eyes are always geared towards the future,” he explained.
Making reference to the increasing presence of artificial intelligence and the rise of globalisation, Mr Debono said that the timing of this paradigm shift “could not be more happily apposite” for db Group.
“In the present conceived as a prelude to the future, we shall be embarking on two initiatives in which will define us in the years to come,” he said, referring to the St George’s Bay project and London expansion. These are two initiatives which “geographically point in different directions but are tied together in spirit,” Mr Debono stated.
Robert Debono, the company’s CEO, noted that the financial year in review was “not a typical one” of the hospitality and leisure sector, as it served as a “litmus test of how quickly and effectively the industry was going to emerge from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
db Group CEO Robert Debono
He remarked that it was the year in which the hospitality industry was “fully able to discover what the new normality brought to the table”.
He acknowledged that the industry, “perhaps more than others”, largely depends on a number of wide and disparate factors, as it either “sinks or swim” depending on the number, quality and preferences of tourists who visit Malta, together with the daily choices made by the “burgeoning number of local clients”.
Turning to the performance of Malta’s hospitality industry as a whole, Mr Debono said: “In line with continental trends, hospitality and leisure bounced back with a vengeance in Malta too. Quite simply, visitors and locals could not wait to go back to enjoying themselves – and they ventured out again in full force without hesitation.”
He explained that Malta was “solidly on the radar of tourists from near and far”, making reference to the surge in demand recorded in the first quarter of 2023, which even surpassed that of 2019.
“On our part, it gives me great satisfaction and pleasure to see our hotels full again. Indeed during last winter they performed even better than in 2019. This success did not fall from the sky but was built on the solid foundations we laid down during the pandemic and after,” he continued.
He highlighted that db Group continued to invest in its hotels, particularly by “enhancing and diversifying” the dining experiences they offer, with refurbishments taking place at the restaurants in its Seabank and San Antonio hotels.
Mr Debono added that the company’s restaurant segment has enjoyed a significant growth when compared to the record pre-pandemic times, marked by the opening of LOA and Sonora in St Paul’s Bay. “It was truly impressive to see how locals and visitors instantly embraced the South American cuisine of the former. The hard, consistent and visionary work paid off. LOA quickly made it to the Michelin Guide list, alongside our other restaurant, AKI,” he said.
He added that the company continued to invest in its people, having made a series of appointments at Director and senior management level.
Additionally, db Group is the franchisee of the Starbucks brand, which Mr Debono remarked “continued to outperform itself in leaps and bounds”. He highlighted that six outlets were opened during the financial year, with “another four in the pipeline”.
“In sum, this was a very good year for our group,” he explained. “These results encourage us to continue on our journey towards the horizon, locally with the commencement of our iconic project at St George’s Bay and internationally with the opening of our first restaurant abroad in the heart of London,” Mr Debono concluded.
SD Holdings operates and owns three hotels in Malta, namely the db Seabank Resort & Spa, the db San Antonio Hotel & Spa, and the Melior Boutique Hotel in Valletta. It also operates various restaurants, together with the Hard Rock Café and Starbucks franchises locally.
db Group Chairman and Managing Director Silvio Debono / db Group