France's Accor posts 77 percent net profit surge
Europe's leading hotel group, Accor of France, on Wednesday posted a 2014 net profit of 223 million euros ($253 million), a 77 percent surge that nevertheless fell short of market expectations.
It also showed a record 602 million euro operating profit, 15.6 percent up on 2013, while sales edged up a modest 0.5% to 5.45 billion, the group said in a statement.
Analysts polled by research company Factset had forecast Accor's net 2014 profit at 313 million euros on average.
"2014 was a rich year," said CEO Sebastien Bazin. "The foundations are in place" following the launch of a three-year-restructuring plan after his arrival at the helm in August 2013.
"This performance must be placed in the context of the deep changes the group has undertaken, and the numerous operations it has carried out in recent months," the former private equity investor said in a conference call.
The "record results (were achieved) despite a mixed economic environment, especially in France," he said.
The world's top tourist destination failed to increase visitor numbers in 2014, its first flat tourism year since 2009, according to the World Tourism Organization.
The restructuring plan separates Accor's primary operations into a HotelService division running the hotels and the HotelInvest arm managing the group's 1,354 properties.
Bazin said Accor had invested more than a billion euros purchasing hotels in 2014, primarily in Europe.
In December, the group also struck a partnership in the booming Chinese market with heavyweight Huazhu.
Those moves allowed Accor to put nearly 30,000 new rooms into service -- a figure Bazin said the group would seek to surpass in 2015.
Based on its 2014 results, Accor said it planned to raise its per-share dividend payments to 95 euro cents -- an increase of 19 percent over 2013.
Accor, the world's sixth-largest hotel group, includes the Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure and Ibis chains, and operates 3,700 hotels with a total of 470,000 rooms worldwide.
© 2015 AFP