Richard Solomons, the chief executive of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), will step down at the end of June after six years in his role, he said today, as the company posted a rise in revenues.
The company said Solomons will retire from IHG altogether at the end of August, while Keith Barr, currently the company's chief commercial officer, will replace him as chief executive.
Solomons joined the company 25 years ago and has been on its board for 14 years.
Global revenue per available room (revpar), a measure used by the hotels industry, rose 2.7 per cent in the first quarter, while occupancy rose 0.8 per cent.
The company opened 49 new hotels during the quarter, including its 300th in Greater China, with 7,000 new rooms opening, although it also removed 7,000 rooms as it shut 48 hotels..
However, while revpar was up 6.9 per cent in Europe and 1.9 per cent in the US, its performance was weaker in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where revpar rose just 0.1 per cent. In Greater China, the figure rose 3.8 per cent, or 4.3 per cent in mainland China.
IHG confirmed plans to return $400m to shareholders via a special divi. However, shares fell 1.2 per cent to 4,131p as the markets opened.
Why it's interesting
Things may have looked slow in the Middle East, but on its home turf IHG enjoyed stonking growth in the first quarter, with revpar leaping 12 per cent in London. Figures published in February showed the number of tourists flocking to the capital jumped in 2016 as they made the most of the weak pound.
It also said the late Easter had been helpful during the first quarter, particularly in Europe and the Americas - although it warned it expects that to reverse in the second quarter.
Lest we forget, last August the company was the subject of rumours (since denied) suggesting Chinese insurance giant Anbang was planning to swoop. Since then, though, shares have risen almost a third, so it's in a safer position.
What IHG said
We have made a good start to 2017, with 3.4 per cent net system size growth year-on-year and 2.7 per cent revpar growth driven by increases in both rate and occupancy, and benefitting from the later timing of Easter.
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.