Andrew Cosslett

12 May 2005
Andrew Cosslett

Overall ranking: 17

Hoteliers ranking: 4


Andrew Cosslett took on the £650,000-a-year role of chief executive at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) on 3 February 2005.

The group is the world's largest hotel operator by bedroom numbers and posted pre-tax profits of £309m on a £2.2b turnover in 2004. It currently owns, leases, franchises or manages around 3,540 hotels (with more than 536,000 bedrooms) in nearly 100 countries and employs more than 40,000 staff. It also holds a controlling stake in the Britvic soft drinks business.

Career guide

Cosslett, who was born in 1955, worked with Unilever between 1979 and 1990 where he held a variety of marketing roles on the foods side.

He spent the next 14 years at Cadbury Schweppes, which he joined in 1990 as marketing director, Schweppes GB. He progressed through a variety of senior roles that included chairman of Cadbury Schweppes Australia, chief executive officer of the Asia Pacific confectionery business and managing director, Great Britain and Ireland.

Before joining IHG this February, he was president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Cadbury Schweppes.

What we think

The ousting of Richard North, Cosslett's predecessor, in September 2004, was a shock as it came just months after he announced a 55% boost to interim pre-tax profits.

The reason for his replacement? According to chairman David Webster, "Our future is increasingly focused on growing our global brands in a predominantly managed and franchised hotel system. The execution of this strategy needs different leadership skills based on brand development and operations."

Cosslett's appointment highlights a growing trend among hospitality firms to seek bosses from outside the industry as they move from property ownership to hotel management (both Hilton and Starwood took similar measures last year).

The InterContinental portfolio was built up by brewer Bass from 1987. Having sold its brewing interests, Bass (renamed Six Continents) demerged its hotel and pub businesses in 2003 to create IHG and Mitchells & Butlers.

Since the demerger, IHG has sold 121 of the 188 hotels it owned. This includes a £1b sale-and-manage-back deal in March 2005 of 73 UK hotels to a consortium led by Lehmann Brothers Real Estate.

The deal left IHG owning just three of its 200 UK hotels. Two - the Birmingham Crowne Plaza and Dublin Holiday Inn - are still for sale while IHG will keep the InterContinental on Hyde Park corner in London. The plan is to hold onto hotels in key cities such as London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong.

Of 673 new hotels in the pipeline, only two will be owned by IHG.

IHG is the UK's second largest hotel group after Whitbread, and Express by Holiday Inn is the third largest budget brand. In the peer-reviewed Britain's Most Admired Companies 2004 ranking, IHG was listed sixth in the leisure and hotels top 10 and 99th in the pan-industry top 220.

This April, IHG announced it would introduce the extended-stay Staybridge Suites brand to the UK with two openings in 2006.

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