Business Day

Rezidor eyes more hotels in sub-saharan region

- NICK HEDLEY Contributi­ng Writer

THE Rezidor Hotel Group, whose brands include Regent, Hotel Missoni, Radisson Blu and Park Inn, intends to ramp up its presence in SA and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa as part of its focus on high-growth emerging economies.

Rezidor president and CEO Wolfgang Neumann said in an interview on Tuesday the group wanted to see its mid-market Park Inn brand having a presence in all of SA’s nine provinces, while also further rolling out the Radisson Blu brand in SA.

The Stockholm-listed group, a member of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, operates six hotels across SA — in Cape Town, Johannesbu­rg and Port Elizabeth. Another three are set to open in the short term, including a Radisson Blu in the Kruger National Park.

Mr Neumann said sub-Saharan Africa “is a key area” for the group’s growth. The group has 12 hotels with 2,300 rooms in operation in subSaharan Africa, while “we have a further 21 hotels with 3,600 rooms under developmen­t” in the region.

In February, Rezidor opened a Radisson Blu hotel in Mozambique, its second hotel in a country that previously had an undersuppl­y of branded internatio­nal operators, Mr Neumann said.

“When customers come to subSaharan Africa, they want to know where they’re going, where they’re staying and what to expect. They want reliabilit­y and security.”

While Rezidor had expected a relatively slow start in Mozambique, its hotels “opened immediatel­y at 65% occupancie­s”. The group was “starting to have a good portfolio” in sub-Saharan Africa, and was in the process of opening other hotels including a Radisson Blu and a Park Inn in Nairobi, Kenya.

A high growth and “key” country targeted was Nigeria, where the group had five hotels in its developmen­t pipeline.

Mr Neumann said he was optimistic about opportunit­ies in fast-growing Angola, and said growth was also high in Ethiopia, although this had not yet registered with the market. However, he said Africa carried higher risks than other regions, and “it takes a year or two longer to open a hotel”. The group had a strong focus on other emerging market regions including Russia and other Commonweal­th of Independen­t States countries, Mr Neumann said. The focus on emerging markets was necessary as Europe was “going through a difficult patch and that is not going to turn around very soon”.

“These are external factors you cannot influence, so you need to focus on what you can do yourself. You have got to focus on new opportunit­ies, while beating the competitio­n in the market because competitor­s are in the same situation,” Mr Neumann said.

Research by consultanc­y W Hospitalit­y Group states that the number of planned new hotel rooms in sub-Saharan Africa stood at 21,052 in 130 hotels in January — “a massive 23% increase” from 17,109 planned rooms in 100 hotels a year earlier. In sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria had “by far the largest pipeline”, the group said.

Hilton Worldwide and Carlson Rezidor had the largest pipelines in sub-Saharan Africa.

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