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A change at the top for InterContinental, owner of the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn chains, with Richard Solomons opting to retire from the CEO post after six years just as business kicks up a gear, particularly in Europe and London.
Mr Solomons, who has spent a total of 25 years with the hotel group, will be succeeded by Keith Barr, currently the chief commercial officer.
In a trading update, the group added that its revenue per available room – the industry’s preferred measure of sales – was up by 2.7 per cent in the first quarter. “Despite the uncertain economic and political environment in some markets, we remain confident in the outlook for 2017 and our ability to deliver sustainable growth into the future,” Mr Solomons said.
Growth was particularly robust in Europe, with revpar up nearly 7 per cent, including an 8 per cent rise in the UK and a 12 per cent gain in London.
Performance in markets impacted by terror attacks in 2015 and 2016 improved, as we annualised against weaker trading comparables. Most noticeably in France, RevPAR grew almost 6%, driven by over 8% growth in Paris as a result of increased leisure demand.
In Asia, revpar growth was pronounced in India, thanks to easier visa restrictions, with a 13 per cent gain, while China has been more muted, with a 3.8 per cent gain. Overall, however, revenue growth for Asia, the Middle East and Africa excluding China was only 0.1 per cent, dented by a 7 per cent drop in the Middle East “due to the ongoing impact of low oil prices, high supply growth and government austerity measures”.