[WATCH] How Alfred Pisani built the Corinthia Group

The groups’ chairman and CEO describes how a single restaurant was developed into an international chain of hotels

Corinthia Group CEO and Chairman Alfred Pisani
Corinthia Group CEO and Chairman Alfred Pisani

Over the span of 50 years, the Corinthia group went from a single restaurant in Attard, to a group of companies owning over 15 hotels world-wide.

Speaking on the programme XTRA Sajf, the group’s chairman and CEO Alfred Pisani described to host Saviour Balzan how he had various the milestones which along the years made the business the success it is today.  

Pisani said that after opening a restaurant in 1962, he had decided that he would not be content with owning simple restaurant, and had invested in a 40-room hotel in Attard – the Corinthia Palace Hotel.

Asked about his relationship with the country’s various Prime Ministers over the years, Pisani said that he had never found much resistance from the administration of the day.

“It didn’t really make a difference in the sense that our commitment was always to work and improve,” said Pisani. “When you meet someone with a genuine plan than will create work they its very difficult for them to say no.”

Pisani described how once the group had four hotels in Malta, he decided to tap into the Libyan market, despite the fact that “everyone was leaving Libya due to the nationalisation by the Ghaddafi regime at the time.”

“Within two years we had a huge business there,” said Pisani. “We were the only foreign company providing catering.”

Using the profits from Libya, Pisani said he had seen an opportunity to tap into the eastern European market after the fall of the Berlin wall, adding however that banks were reluctant to follow him to these countries.  

He recounted how when the group decided to buy a number of hotels Czechoslovakia, it had initially faced resistance by people working at the hotels who embarked on a “huge campaign” to discredit the group by saying Pisani was one of Ghaddafi’s henchmen and that the hotel were being funded using “Lockerbie blood money”.

As a result, he said the hotels went empty and after about three months, he decided to confront the media.

“None of them wanted to shake my hand but I was very angry,“ said Pisani, adding that he had given journalists present a thorough explanation of the situation.

“They ended up clapping by the time it was over and from then on the negative attitude started to abate,”

As a result of the campaign, Pisani said he had faced death threats in Czechoslovakia as well as in places like St. Petersburg in Russia.

Watch the full episode in the link above

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