Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Richard Solomons, Intercontinental Hotels Groups

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Richard Solomons, Intercontinental Hotels Groups

Overall ranking: 15 (NEW ENTRY)

Hotel ranking: 5 (NEW ENTRY)

Richard Solomons is the new chief executive of Intercontinental Hotels Group, having taken over from Andy Cosslett on 1 July. He's no new kid on the block however, having been with IHG since June 1992, latterly as chief financial officer and head of commercial department.

IHG has more guest rooms than any other hotel company in the world - with 652,000 rooms and over 4,400 hotels in 100 countries globally between seven brands - InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. There are a further 1,236 hotels in the pipeline representing nearly 200,000 additional rooms.

Richard Solomons - Career guide

Solomons has a BA (Econ) Hons from Manchester University and qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG Peat Marwick in 1985. Prior to joining IHG, he worked in investment banking for seven years with Hill Samuel Bank Limited, based in New York and London.

Since arriving at IHG Solomons has held a number of senior roles including chief operating officer of the Americas hotels division and latterly as chief financial officer and head of commercial development - a role he's held since 2003.

During this time, he led the global finance organisation for the group and was responsible for corporate and regional finance, group financial control, strategy, investor relations, tax, treasury, commercial development and procurement. He is also a member of the IHG board and executive committee. Married with three children, he takes over from Cosslett on 1 July.

Richard Solomons - What we think

While it's clearly too early to tell what affect Solomons will have in IHG's top job, it's a fair bet that under his stewardship, the company will be in safe hands.

He has worked closely with his predecessor Andrew Cosslett, heading the financial side of the business' restructuring which Cosslett spearheaded over the last five years.

Under Cosslett IHG moved to an 'asset light' business model and introduced a number of initiatives, including a £1b overhaul of the Holiday Inn brand and a major drive into the rapidly growing Chinese hotel market. It has also launched new brands such as Hotel Indigo.

While IHG hasn't been immune to the effects of the global recession, the group's first quarter results in 2011 showed the Chinese strategy was paying off, with 18.8% RevPAR growth in the region, compared with overall global RevPAR up 6.9%. IHG's 2010 annual report posted total gross revenue up 11% to $18.7bn (£11.6bn), revenue up 6% to $1,628m (£1006.5m) with operating profit before exceptional items up 22% to $444m (£274.5m).

David Webster, chairman of IHG called Solomons "an able and worthy successor" who will continue to drive the company's growth strategy. The news earlier this month that a further 54 hotels have been signed in Europe intimate that, as Solomons himself has stated, his stepping into the role marks "a new chapter, not a new book" in the IHG story.

While he will undoubtedly want to put his own print on IHG, plans announced earlier this year to revamp the Crown Plaza brand show the IHG juggernaught under Solomons has no plans to slow down.

IHG's new Olympic hotels on track for 2012 >>

Kirk Kinsell appointed president of the Americas for InterContinental Hotels Group >>

Andrew Cosslett to step down as IHG chief executive >>

Intercontinental Hotels Group website >>

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