‘We are looking at an asset light strategy to expand’

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on March 08, 2013

Raymond Bickson, Managing Director and CEO, IHC.

We will look at launching a brand positioned in the mid-scale segment in the next 2 years.

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) aims to hit 200 hotels by 2018. Raymond Bickson, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, who was in Gurgaon to launch the company’s 100th hotel in the country, this under the Vivanta by Taj brand, spoke to Business Line on the company’s plans and its focus on following an asset-light strategy.

What is your strategy for the next growth phase? Will it be more of management contracts or international expansion?

It will be a combination of both. We have to make sure that we stay relevant to the market and continue to be a major player. We need to make sure we do not become marginalised in the country in which we have been a dominant player. We need to be aggressive and grow, and constantly redefine our brand architecture. I think we have done a good job of segmenting our brands, with Taj in the luxury space, Vivanta by Taj in the upper upscale, Gateway in the upscale, and Ginger in the budget segment. The other part is to tap into the fast growing potential of outbound travel. Estimates suggest that from about 15 million, the outbound market is expected to grow to 55 million by 2020.

We can’t own everything, but what we need to do is grow. We are looking at an asset light strategy to expand across regions. And we need to be present in all the new central business districts that are emerging across cities. For instance, we will have nearly 14 new Gateways opening, and the majority of them are management contracts. There are challenges in building hotels and it takes longer to open hotels in India and requires so many permits and approvals.

What are your plans to expand further?

We will open 83 new hotels globally in the next 5-6 years, doubling our inventory. We currently have 117 hotels globally and expect to have 200 hotels by 2018.

Are you planning a brand between Ginger and Gateway?

We need to have a brand positioned in the mid-scale segment. We have the site, the location, the model that we want to use, the design and now it’s the question of going and doing a prototype. We will look at launching the brand in the next two years.

Published on March 08, 2013

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