Mercure – the mid-scale brand from French hotel group Accor – intends to double the size of its UK portfolio to 150 properties.
The announcement of the brand’s growth plans was made by Jonathan Sheard, the senior vice president of Mercure hotel, Northern Europe, alongside the relaunch of the Mercure London Bridge.
Following an extensive refurbishment, the four-star,144-bedroom hotel is the first UK property to feature the brand’s new global design and service identity. Hotels in Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Sheffield will soon receive a make-over, with the rest of the 74 hotels in the UK being transformed over the next three to four years.
Sheard said that Mercure is one of the top three mid-scale hotel brands in the UK alongside Best Western and Holiday Inn and that the overhaul of the brand will help it stand out from its competitors.
“The mid-scale market has been under massive pressure in recent years from up-scale hotels which have had the ability to trade down in price and the value proposition from the expanding budget sector,” he said. “We want to confirm our leadership in the market and are doing so by offering a point of difference and that means giving proving a warm welcome from the moment you walk through the door as well as offering a good shower and great food and beverage.”
The check-in at the new look Mercure is conducted by staff using tablet computers at low tables which are encouraged to make the guests relax, while check- out can be done by sending of an invoice to the guest’s smart phone or computer.
Three new food and beverage concepts have been created to reflect the flexible demands of today’s travellers with the choice of the Cuisine Lounge, where guests serve themselves at any time of the day or night; the Restaurant Lounge, which serves local or traditional dishes; and the Bar Lounge, where guests can light, snack-style food.
Mercure’s new identity will be backed up by the Mercure Quality Guarantee, based on 96 quality guidelines, to ensure the guest experience is consistent across all of the brand’s hotels.
Sheard said the plan to have 150 Mercure hotels open in the UK by 2016 is “ambitious” but achievable, as only just over 30% of the mid-scale market is represented by branded hotels.
“As well as looking to open more hotels in London, where we already have five properties, we would like to be represented in other major cities such as Belfast, Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham, as well as more rural locations.”
Future Mercure openings will be primarily through management and franchise agreements. Globally, the brand is aiming to grow from 732 hotels today to 1,000 hotels within five years.