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Accor aims to expand presence

ACCOR SA, Europe's biggest hotel group, said yesterday that it plans to more than double its China presence over the next few years as it sees opportunities, especially in second and third-tier cities, in the country.

"By 2011, we hope to expand our China portfolio, both under operations and in the pipeline, to around 180 hotels, or 40,000 rooms," said Robert Murray, senior vice president for Accor's China operations. "There is too much opportunity in China, especially in the mid-market sector."

By end of February, the European hospitality giant had a total of 76 hotels, or 21,765 rooms, across the country under six brands including Sofitel, Pullman, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure and Ibis.

Among the more than 100 hotels to be added in the coming few years, the Pullman brand, designed for business travelers, as well as the budget Ibis brand, will more likely grow at a faster pace, the company said.

Accor, which on Sunday opened its first Pullman hotel in Shanghai, or its fifth in China, said that it will add another seven Pullman hotels across the country by 2011, primarily in second and third-tier cities.

Meanwhile, the hotelier hopes to triple its Ibis properties during the same period, mainly because of robust market demand as well as the high profit margin that economy hotels command.

The global financial turmoil has been taking its toll on the country's hotel industry, particularly in gateway cities like Shanghai and Beijing, analysts said.


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