Businessmen yet to return to IHG hotels

THE world’s biggest hotel firm InterContinental (IHG) has warned that without a return of business customers its fortunes will not improve after profit fell 34 per cent last year.

InterContinental – which owns the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inns brands – said yesterday that trends in the fourth quarter of last year showed some improvements.

Occupancy at its hotels stabilised but room rates are under pressure.

Shares in the group dropped by three per cent after the figures were announced, closing at 893p.

Chief executive Andrew Cosslett said: “The fourth quarter did show some improvement in trends and occupancy has now stabilised. Rates, however, remain under pressure and we expect trading to stay tough until business travellers return in greater numbers.”

Revenue per available room – the industry benchmark – fell by 14.7 per cent with a fourth quarter fall of 10.9 per cent. The decline for last month was just 3.8 per cent.

IHG opened 26,828 new rooms last year, lower than in 2008 because of the scarcity of financing for development. The group, which has 4,438 hotels around the globe and makes 70 per cent of its profit in the US, paid a final dividend of 29.2 cents a share, making an unchanged full year payout of 41.4 cents. IHG, which also runs Staybridge Suites, said it was on track with its $1bn (£633m) re-launch of Holiday Inn.