InterContinental Hotel group enjoys impressive UK growth
InterContinental, whose brands include Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express, said annual trading at its UK hotels has been "particularly strong".
The group, which operates Belfast's Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, and an Express in Antrim, reported that its key measure of revenues per available room (revpar) jumped by 8.9% in the UK in the year to the end of December.
It added that it experienced low double-digit growth in the UK provinces and high single-digit growth in London.
Across the business, operating profits slipped 3% to $651m (£423m) in line with forecasts, reflecting hotel disposals and other one-off items. Shares fell almost 5%.
It added that revpar across the group was up 6.1%, including a 7.4% jump in the Americas, a region which accounts for 68% of its operating profit.
Most of the company's hotels are operated through franchise agreements, with other brands including Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites. It has 303 hotels in the UK.
The company said 21 UK hotels transferred from managed to franchise contracts last year, with more expected to transfer in 2015. It expects UK franchised income from these hotels to rise by a further $3m (£1.9m) in the medium term as a result of these changes.
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The group bought the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants for $430m (£279m), which has 62 luxury properties in 28 US cities. It was the firm's first major purchase in a decade.
Chief executive Richard Solomons said: "We expanded our brand portfolio and strengthened our position in boutique hotels, the fastest growing segment in the industry over the last five years, with the acquisition of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants."
In China it reported that revpar grew by 1.6% over the year, with revpar falling by 2% in the fourth quarter.
Mr Solomons added: "Looking into 2015, we face many macro-economic and geopolitical uncertainties, but are confident."