• Kew Green launches in China

Kew Green Hotels has become a brand in its own right in Hong Kong, with the opening of a new hotel.
The move follows Kew Green’s acquisition by Asian investor HK CTS Hotels last year and comes as it overhauled its brand identity for the first time since its inception in 2001.
HK CTS Hotels owns four brands, including Grand Metropark Hotels, Metropark Hotels, Kew Green Hotels and Traveler Inn, with a total portfolio of 140 hotels in four countries, including 30-plus locations in the UK and properties in more than 40 cities throughout China. The group also plans to rebrand its properties in Beijing and Suzhou under the Kew Green flag in 2017.
Properties are freehold owned, or run under contracts, leases or joint ventures, with brands including: Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, ibis Styles, Hampton by Hilton and Courtyard by Marriott, as well as independent sites The Grand, Brighton hotel and Richmond Hill Hotel. The company has never run a hotel under the flag Kew Green.
Jileen Loo, head of Asia Desk, International Capital Markets, CBRE Hotels EMEA, told us: “With branding, it’s never too late to start, specially now that more Chinese are travelling and seeing brands from overseas.
“CTS has an abundant pipeline of Chinese tourists and through the Kew Green platform they have created their own brand. In Wanchai, in Hong Kong, they have converted an existing hotel to become a Kew Green branded hotel and this will help with brand awareness – particularly if guests who have stayed there before start seeing it overseas. A good strategy if they were to re-brand the other hotels outside of Greater China.”
The news of the brand launch came as Kew Green refreshed its logo and website,
Alex Pritchard, CEO, Kew Green Group, said of the rebrand: “We’re thrilled to have launched the new Kew Green visual identity and website which reflects the values Kew Green stands for. Our new visual assets encapsulate our standards, helping us to build a strong brand identity in the market place.
“It’s also a privilege to see the first Kew Green brand hotel in Hong Kong. The hotel is the embodiment of the close collaboration between ourselves and the team at HK CTS. This launch and new identity is the perfect way to wrap up a successful 2016, and provides us with a fantastic springboard to move the company forward in 2017.”
HK CTS paid a reported GBP400m for Kew Green in August last year from  Goldman Sachs’ and TPG Special Situations Partners’, who bought the group in 2013. The company had mooted an IPO should a sale not be achieved.
Jeremy XU Muhan, chairman, HK CTS Metropark Hotels, said at the time that “the purchase of Kew Green Hotels is a tremendous acquisition that provides us with a strategic growth platform within the UK and across Europe.
“Investing overseas will enable us to bridge Chinese tourism with the rest of the world. The acquisition of the first-rate Kew Green Hotels business is the first step and it gives us this ability and provides a platform to grow from.”
HK CTS was established in 1928 and is China’s largest travel group, a state-owned enterprise under the direction of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council. It invests in tourism, industry (iron and steel), real estate and logistics. The group has said that its ambition by 2020 is to become the leading travel group in Asia and top five in the world.
In August 2016, HK CTS Group merged with CITS, to form CTS Group. CTS Group is concentrating on further investment into the expansion of its travel and tourism operations, both in mainland China and globally.
As well as looking at further UK and European expansion through the Kew Green platform, the company is also seeking to expand its hotel and tourism related operations in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Americas, and has a number of projects in development in each continent.
With a combined sales revenue of around GBP6.0bn in 2015, the companies catered for 50 million travellers.

HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: At the recent Pandox hotel market day, Andreas Scriven, international managing director & managing director – consultancy, Christie & Co, told the assembled that the company had recently sold The Plough pub near to Chequers to Chinese investors for a perky price.
The pub was the venue for a fish and chip dinner which David Cameron treated president Xi Jinping to last year and has since been added to the must-see list for tourists from China, with coach loads arriving to have their photos taken, day and night. The new owner, Scriven said, plans to roll out a chain of The Ploughs all over China.
And why not? Nandos hails from South Africa, the Brits love curry and fish’n’chips itself traces its ancestry back to the Jewish and Polish migrants bringing delicious joy to the phrase ‘cultural melting pot’. Post-Brexit, it doesn’t hurt to have a brand out there which makes the British appear outward looking.
That a management company is now a brand seems cock-eyed to us observers of the sector, but to an owner, the past few years have highlighted that what a brand is, is distribution. HK CTS has the guests and now it has the brand to attract the anticipated wave of outbound Chinese.

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