• Accor sees stabilisation

Accor saw the first signs of occupancy stabilising during December and it said its sales figures for the final quarter of last year showed a "slight improvement" compared to previous quarters.

But the US remains a problem and fears remain about the strength of recovery in continental Europe.

The full year decline in hotel division sales was 10.1%, slowing slightly to 8.3% in the fourth quarter, both on a like-for-like basis.

The upscale and midscale segment in Europe, which is reported together, were down 11.5% like-for-like for the full-year. This was markedly worse than the 6.1% decline in European economy hotels.

The strongest country of Accor's major territories was France. During the full year, economy hotels there saw revpar decline by just 1.8% and upscale and midscale hotels declined 12.1%. Spain continues to be the worst performer, down 24.5% for both economy and midscale / upscale.

During December the UK showed the strongest rebound with revpar up 9.3% for midscale / upscale and down just 0.3% for economy. Economy hotels in the US showed a decline of 14.4% in the final quarter.

HA Perspective: Back in December, Accor CEO Gerard Pelisson was reported in the French press as pondering the sale of economy chain Motel 6 in the US. A glance at the latest numbers shows just why that is being considered.

The same interview in Le Figaro also reported co-founder Paul Dubrule saying that Sofitel is not likely to be sold. The upscale chain is expected to deliver better profitability within the next couple of years.

The company will this year start the demerger to create a focused hotels business and a separate voucher business. But already the market is looking beyond this big step to what else can be done.

The early signs of trading recovery look promising but there is a way to go before the company can feel confident. Radical management action beyond the demerger should help position Accor as one of the strongest global hotel groups.

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