The Indian Hotels Company has announced a new overseas push alongside robust figures for the year to 31 March.
As reported last week, award-winning hotelier Raymond Bickson is being promoted from chief operating officer at Taj Luxury Hotels to managing director of its parent, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL). "These are exciting times at IHCL," said Bickson. "We have set ourselves the task of taking the Taj to new international markets to emerge as a truly global hotel group."
The Indian Hotels Company, set up in 1902, is India's largest hotel group. It runs 54 hotels in India and 13 overseas, including 51 Buckingham Gate and the Crowne Plaza St James in London
In the year to 31 March the group boosted sales by 10% from Rs5.17b (£66m) to Rs5.7b (£73m) after adjusting the 2002 figures to exclude Taj Air Catering (TAC). This division was sold to a joint-venture company with Singapore Airport Terminal Services in September 2001.
Operating profit soared by 49% from Rs260m (£3.3m) to Rs390m (£5m). Although pre-tax profits dropped from Rs830m (£10.6m) to Rs540m (£6.9m), this in part reflected the exceptional gain of Rs890m (£11m) in the earlier year from the sale of TAC.
Managing director Krishna Kumar said aggressive domestic marketing and strong growth in food and beverage revenues had helped offset a tough business climate. Hurdles included travel warnings in the second quarter and the fall in international travel due to the Iraq war in the fourth quarter.
The third quarter saw occupancy rise from 56% to 61% and food and beverage sales climb by 17%.