Hotel group to create 3000 UK jobs

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The Independent Online

Holiday Inn firm Intercontinental Hotels Group today set out plans to create 3,000 jobs in the UK, as it reported a 22% hike in half-year profits.

The world's biggest hotelier, which also operates under the Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites brands, reported operating profits of 219 million US dollars (£137.3 million) in the first half of 2010.

IHG operates 255 hotels in the UK - of which 230 are Holiday Inns - and will be opening another 35 in the next two to three years, creating 3,000 jobs across the country.

A spokesman for the group said of the 35 planned hotels, 24 will be Holiday Inns and there will be two new Crowne Plazas, three Staybridge Suites and five Hotel Indigos. A new Intercontinental will also open in Westminster, London.

In the first half of this year, the group's London hotels have led the market recovery in the UK, due to a revival in demand from business travellers - a trend seen globally.

In a sign of increased economic confidence, the Intercontinental in Park Lane saw its revenues per available room increase by 15%.

The increases were largely due to the revived business travel sector, while healthy leisure demand seen last year continued into the first half of 2010.

Globally, IHG said Asia was leading the industry's recovery, in particular from China. The group operates more than 650,000 rooms in 4,500 hotels across the world.

Today's improved results follow an overhaul for its Holiday Inn hotels, including a new brand, retraining scheme for staff and changes to facilities.

A spokesman for the group said 75% of the UK Holiday Inns had now been refurbished and that update Holiday Inns in the UK were performing 6% better than those which had still to be relaunched.

Across the world, there are now 2,585 hotels operating under the new Holiday Inn standards, out of a total of 3,400.

Chief executive Andrew Cosslett said the relaunched hotels continue to "meet or beat expectations".

He added: "As anticipated, occupancy drove revenue per available room increases, with business travellers returning in greater numbers."

Mr Cosslett said room rates were stabilising across the world.

But he added: "The economic environment does remain uncertain, however, with short booking windows and limited visibility."

IHG said revenues per available room, a key industry measure, increased 3.4% in the first half of 2010 while overall group revenues for the half-year went up 6% to 772 million US dollars (£484.1 million).

IHG, which earns two-thirds of its profits in the United States, opened 148 hotels across the world in the first-half of 2010 and signed up 130 hotels.