InterContinental Hotels growth boosted by brand investment

InterContinental Hotels Group’s (ICH) says investment in its brands helped lift group operating profit 23% in the first half of 2011.

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The group is owner of the Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo brands , among others, and the latest results are the first posted under recently appointed CEO Richard Solomons.

ICH overhauled its Holiday inn properties with a £650m investment and its report highlights brand growth, particularly in the Americas, and says: “Following the Holiday Inn relaunch the hotels operating under the new brand standards are outperforming their closest competitors.”

Holiday Inn and Express by Holiday Inn are a Tier Three sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics.

The group’s overall operating profit came in at $269m (£164.6m) on revenue up 10% to $850m ($520.4m), year on year.

ICH’s greater focus on brand building recently led to the stepping down of chief marketing officer Tom Seddon.

Eric Pearson, chief marketing officer for The Americas, is currently interim global head of brands, while the company looks to fill the CMO role.

The company’s global revenue per available room rose 6.7% with Greater China, where ICH has indentified huge potential growth, up 12.7% and the US up 8.2%.

The company does say that the wider economic environment “remains uncertain” and that bookings are not being made far in advance.

However, looking ahead, the group says: “Our global scale, powerful brands, revenue delivery systems, resilient cash generative business model and focus on efficiency combined with an optimistic market outlook give us confidence in the future.”

Solomons says: “Our priorities are to develop our brands, invest in our people and strengthen our revenue delivery systems, thereby creating firmer foundations for growth.”

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