IHG boosted by return of business trips

BUSINESS travellers have fuelled a jump in profits at the Intercontinental Hotel Group – especially in Asia.

The world’s biggest hotels group, which has 640,000 rooms in more than 4,400 hotels, today beat City expectations with a 15 per cent rise in operating profits to $83m (£56m).

Revenues per room – a key indicator of performance – rose 0.2 per cent for the quarter, four per cent in March and 5.2 per cent in April.

The rise was driven largely by business travellers, particularly in the Far East.

London saw a 4.5 per cent increase in revenues per room against a three per cent drop across the UK as whole.

The Park Lane hotel, which is still benefiting from the closure of rivals the Savoy and Four Seasons, had a 15 per cent jump.

Finance director Richard Solomons said: “We are much more optimistic than we were in February. We expect the return of the business traveller to start benefiting our mid-market Holiday Inns which have been refreshed by a massive investment.

“The market in Asia has been strong and China has been performing particularly well.”

Despite the positive figures the company’s shares slid 4p to £11.02 yesterday.

InterContinental’s US rivals were upbeat last month with Marriott International and Sheraton-owner Starwood Hotels & Resorts beating first quarter forecasts.