French hotel giant Accor has announced better-than-expected pre-tax profits for 2004.
The company posted pre-tax profits of €592m (£412m), a 13% rise on last year's figure.
Turnover was up from €1.77b (£1.23b) to €1.86b (£1.29b) in 2004.
However, net profit fell by 11% as the company was landed with a tax bill for reducing its stake in UK contract catering giant Compass, knocking €58m (£40m) off the books.
As a result, the worldwide chain announced a more aggressive real estate strategy in order to accelerate growth.
Long-time partner Colony Capital plans a €1b (£696m) cash injection in the company to pay for future expansion into emerging markets such as China, India and Russia.
It also plans to sell and manage back 75% of its Sofitel chain by 2006.
At its mid-market Novotel and Mercure sites, Accor intends to transform its fixed leases into variable deals, based on a share of revenue.
by Tom Bill
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