Accor aiming to turn poacher in Dubai

One of the world's biggest hotel chains, Accor, says it is stealing management contracts for hotels in Dubai away from its competitors.

Ibis and Novotel are part of the Accor chain of hotels. The group is weighing up other hotels in Dubai as ‘potential takeovers’.
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Accor, one of the world's largest hotel groups and one of the biggest operators in Dubai, plans to poach hotels in the emirate from its rivals as the market becomes increasingly competitive, the company said yesterday.

"Something that will happen in Dubai, it's not only new build, it's also some potential takeovers," said Olivier Granet, Accor's Middle East director of development.

"It's a target for us to take over some existing properties" in the budget or mid-scale segment.

The operator has signed a management agreement, to be announced soon, to take over one hotel in Dubai from another international chain.

The property will be brought under its Mercure brand, Mr Granet said. It has also been approached by other hotel owners.

"This is something we expect to happen more and more."

Accor has a range of brands including Sofitel at the luxury end of the market, Novotel, and the budget Ibis brand.

"Dubai recovered compared to last year," said Yann Caillère, the president and chief operating officer of Accor.

Demand growth in Dubai's hotel sector was up 16.5 per cent in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to STR Global.

Revenue per available room is expected to grow by 8 to 9 per cent by the end of the year, as a combination of instability elsewhere in the region, and delayed openings have helped to balance supply in the emirate, according to the research company based in London.

"In 2012, new supply growth is expected to reach 9.6 per cent, causing both rate and occupancy to slow down," STR Global said. Data from the company shows 13,000 rooms are under construction in Dubai, while a further 21,000 have been announced.

Accor this week reported that its third-quarter global sales rose by 2.7 per cent compared with the same period last year and said that it was on track to reach an earnings target before interest and tax of between €510 million (Dh2.58 billion) and €530m this year.

"The decline we have in Egypt and Ivory Coast, for instance, is compensated [for] by Latin America or Asia-Pacific.

"We are in 90 countries, so when part of the world is suffering, other countries can compensate," Mr Caillère said.

The company plans to open two business hotels, an Ibis and a Novotel, in Tunisia by the end of the year.

Accor has 55 hotels operating in the Middle East, and a further 23 confirmed in its development pipeline. It plans to have 90 hotels in the region by 2015.

"We see that southern Europe is suffering, Germany should be OK, UK should be OK because of the Olympic Games," Mr Caillère said.

"In Middle East, we don't see any specific worry, except a few spots like Bahrain. But all in all we don't expect a big growth in 2012."