Pandemic travel crisis drags Holiday Inn owner IHG into the red

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Holiday Inn owners Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has said that 2020 was the most challenging year in its history as the plunge in global travel dragged it into the red.

The FTSE 100 firm recorded an operating loss of 153 million dollars (£109 million) for the year after sales were cut by more than half.

Revenues plummeted by 52% to 992 million dollars for the period as travel restrictions hit trading.

Keith Barr, chief executive officer, told investors that he expects that “more meaningful progress towards recovery for the industry” is unlikely to take place until later this year and will depend on vaccine rollouts.

He added continental Europe was particularly affected by the pandemic, with revenue per room sliding 74% over the year.

Mr Barr said: “2020 was clearly the most challenging year in our history, with Covid-19 heavily impacting demand across our industry.

“Having demonstrated resilience and outperformed in 2020, we continue to work closely with owners to capture demand, alongside investing to capitalise on our industry’s long-term growth prospects.

“Our preferred brands in attractive markets and segments, even stronger technology and loyalty platforms, and a substantial proportion of our pipeline being under construction, give us confidence in our ability to achieve industry-leading net rooms growth as the market recovers.”

In the UK, hotels have been told that they will be able to reopen from May 17 at the earliest as part of the Prime Minister’s road map.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The reintroduction of restrictions in key markets during the fourth quarter has slowed progress.

“Holiday and business travel are still moving at a snail’s pace, and unsurprisingly IHG’s full year revenues and profits have been dragged downwards with force.

“Talks of road maps out of lockdowns means there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s going to be a while before hotels are bustling with long-haul travellers or conference delegates.”

Shares were 1.5% lower at 5,229p after early trading.

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