Kew Green Hotels - the largest franchisee of Holiday Inn hotels in Europe - is expected to expand onto the continent following its acquisition by a Chinese company.
HK CTS Hotels Co, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China National Travel Service Group Corporation, is believed to have paid around £400m for the group, which owns and operates 54 hotels in the UK.
Launched in 2001, Kew Green today is the franchisee of 45 Holiday Inn hotels, 44 of which it owns. The company also operates hotels under five other brands: Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Ramada Encore, Ramada and Courtyard by Marriott, as well as managing two independent hotels: the Richmond Hill in south west London and the Grand in Brighton (pictured), on behalf of owner Wittington Investments.
TPG and Goldman Sachs took over ownership of the group in 2012, following a debt-for-equity swap the previous year, resulting in control being handed to Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group. The decision to sell was announced in March, three months after Kew Green completed the purchase of 21 Holiday Inn properties from LRG Holding and initiated a £25m refurbishment of the newly acquired portfolio.
Senior management - headed by chief executive and founding director of the business Paul Johnson - has been retained to grow the business in the UK and throughout Europe. The relationship with the existing franchise partners and owners will remain unchanged.
Johnson said that the deal would allow Kew Green to continue an "aggressive growth strategy as well as giving us access into the rapidly growing Chinese tourist market".
Meanwhile, Jeremy XU Muhan, chairman of HK CTS Metropark Hotels, added that the first group's first overseas investment would provide the group with "a strategic growth platform within the UK and across Europe".
HK CTS Metropark Hotels operates 50 hotels in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China under four brands: the luxury Grand Metropark, Metropark (four-star), Traveler Inn (business) and the budget Traveler Inn Express.
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