Belfast Telegraph

Hotel chain planning to expand as profits soar

By Jamie Grierson

Holiday Inn firm Intercontinental Hotels Group has set out plans to create 3,000 jobs in the UK, as it reported a 22% hike in half-year profits.

The world's biggest hotelier, which also operates under the Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites brands, reported operating profits of $219m (£137.3m) in the first half of 2010.

IHG operates 255 hotels in the UK - of which 230 are Holiday Inns - and will be opening another 35 in the next two to three years, creating 3,000 jobs across the country.

A spokesman for the group said of the 35 planned hotels, 24 will be Holiday Inns and there will be two new Crowne Plazas, three Staybridge Suites and five Hotel Indigos. A new Intercontinental will also open in Westminster, London.

In the first half of this year, the group's London hotels have led the market recovery in the UK, due to a revival in demand from business travellers - a trend seen globally.

In a sign of increased economic confidence, the Intercontinental in Park Lane saw its revenues per available room increase by 15%.

The increases were largely due to the revived business travel sector, while healthy leisure demand seen last year continued into the first half of 2010.

Globally, IHG said Asia was leading the industry's recovery, in particular from China. The group operates more than 650,000 rooms in 4,500 hotels across the world.