Millennium & Copthorne hit by bad weather and political tension

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The Independent Online

Heightened political tension in Seoul, large refurbishment closures and bad winters either side of the Atlantic saw profits at the international hotel group Millennium & Copthorne drop 35 per cent in the first three months of the year.

Revenues were down only 3.6 per cent, or £6.3m, at £169m, but the mix of events saw that and more drop off the bottom line, with pre-tax profits down £9m at £16.9m.

Kwek Leng Beng, the chairman, blamed a number of factors "which are unlikely to abate in the foreseeable future".

The group lost 100,000 room nights in the quarter with the closure or part closure of major hotels in Taipei and Minneapolis for much of the period.

"Singapore will see another increase in the number of hotel rooms this year, which is putting pressure on revenues, whilst the government's tighter foreign labour quotas are putting pressure on costs," Mr Kwek said. "We also have the spectre of avian flu returning in Asia, so all in all the continent looks like it will remain a more challenging hospitality market for the time being."

The company told analysts they should adjust their profit forecasts for the year down from around £160m to between £140m and £150m. That contrasts sharply with recent upbeat trading statements from rivals InterContinental and Marriott.