Mandarin sees return to growth

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THREE years of dwindling profits at the Mandarin Oriental International hotels group looks set to end. The company, registered in Bermuda and an associate of Jardine Matheson, runs eight hotels, including the Mandarin Oriental and Excelsior in Hong Kong.

Simon Keswick, chairman, yesterday reported a 15 per cent profits gain to dollars 22.7m (pounds 13.4m) before tax in the first six months of 1992. The year, he added, should show growth for the first time since the peak dollars 50.4m earned in 1989.

He said the anticipated rise would come from the 'stronger performance of our hotels in Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore'. Mandarin made dollars 37.4m last year.

The main element in the improved interim performance was the growth of travel from within the Asia-Pacific region and from Europe. Those gains, however, were partly offset by a continued decline in American travellers.

Room occupancy levels climbed slightly in Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore, but were still short of 1989 levels, said Mr Keswick, who added: 'We would also like room rates to be a bit higher.'

Contributions from Macau and Jakarta were affected by competitors opening hotels. Bangkok's result was little changed despite the political unrest, which depressed the number of overseas visitors.

Overall, half-year turnover climbed from dollars 59.1m to dollars 72.5m, and generated dollars 17.9m of operating profits, against dollars 14.7m last time. Earnings per share rose from 2.57c to 2.83c, but the interim dividend was held at 1.41c.