Accor Hotels has unveiled plans for a massive expansion spree across India to include setting up as many as 48 hotels over the next three years, with the addition of some 10,000 rooms.
Hotels would include the French chain’s core brands - Sofitel (luxury), Novotel (business class), Ibis (economy), Mercure (mid-scale) and Formule 1 (budget), as well as its new upscale brand Pullman.The expansion would involve Accor expanding its India workforce from 1,300 people at present to 10,000.
“Our focus is on aggressively building both the size and spread of our network across the country over the next few years,” said Michael Issenberg, Accor’s Chairman Asia Pacific and Chief Operating Officer.
“India is a land of promise for Accor. Almost five years ago we made a commitment to launch and grow our business in India to include Accor’s core brands, and to have 50 hotels open in India by 2012. We are well on our way to achieving this ambition. Our commitment to India is strong and we will continue to focus on aggressively building both the size and spread of our network, across India over the next few years.”
The hotel chain currently operates three hotels in India - two in Hyderabad and one in Gurgaon.
Uttam Dave, head of development of Accor Hotels for India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, said: “Taking an approximate of one person per room, we will employ 10,000 people in our India operations over the next three years.”
After a dearth of supply of hotel rooms during the boom year, India has suffered over the past year due to the global downturn. In a study conducted by Hotels.com, the global hotel research firm, the average price of hotel rooms globally fell by 12 percent last year. Mumbai topped the list of biggest fallers, down 41 percent.
However Dave argues that the global slowdown in hospitality presents a good opportunity to expand its fleet. He said: “It is a good time to invest since input costs are low. There will be an upswing in the economy by the time we start operations in all 45 hotels.”
Accor operates in nearly 100 countries with a total workforce of 150,000.
Sofitel, Accor’s luxury brand, will have 3 hotels with 711 rooms in Mumbai, including the flagship Sofitel Mumbai. Ibis has 14 projects committed across 10 destinations in India, totalling over 2700 rooms. Pullman has two committed projects in India - the 284 room Pullman Central Park Gurgaon and the 250 room Pullman Lavasa, both scheduled to open in 2010.
Novotel has 15 hotels committed with close to 4,000 rooms, covering all key gateways and metropolitan cities in India, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad.