Keith Barr to step down as IHG CEO

05 May 2023 by
Keith Barr to step down as IHG CEO

InterContinental Hotels Group chief executive Keith Barr is stepping down to return with his family to the United States, and will be succeeded by the business' Americas chief executive Elie Maalouf.

Barr's final day as chief executive of the group - which operates brands including Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Kimpton and Crowne Plaza - will be 30 June, after which he will remain available to support and advise the business until the end of 2023.

He has worked at IHG for more than 30 years and was appointed to the board and as chief executive in July 2017, broadening the group's portfolio with the addition of seven brands in six years. He also oversaw investment in IHG's digital capabilities and loyalty offer, embarking on a 10-year responsible business strategy, and progressing in key areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Maalouf has led IHG's Americas business as regional chief executive for the past eight years. He will take up his new position on 1 July and will be based in the UK to lead the business.

He joined IHG as Americas chief executive in February 2015. Under his leadership, the region's estate has grown from approximately 3,700 hotels to more than 4,350 and delivered record profits. The process is underway to appoint a successor to his role.

Barr said: "I feel incredibly privileged to have spent three decades as part of IHG, working alongside the many talented colleagues that make it such a special company, and in partnership with our hotel owners who share our passion for hospitality. I have been lucky enough to experience this in multiple countries over the years and to have spent the last six as CEO has been an honour. After a long time living abroad, now is the right time for me and my family to return to the US.

"I am proud of the strong position that IHG is in today, thanks to the investments we have made to transform every aspect of our business, deliver for our guests and owners, and grow and operate our brands in the right way around the world. I'm excited for what lies ahead for IHG and having worked so closely together, to see Elie lead the business and build on all he has achieved in the Americas."

Maalouf said: "I am extremely proud to be appointed CEO of one of the world's leading hotel companies and excited to work with our talented teams and owners around the world on what will be an important new chapter for IHG. Working closely with Keith and as an executive committee, we've made a number of critical strategic investments in recent years that position us with exciting opportunities to realise IHG's full industry leading potential, by driving the performance and growth of our fantastic brands and delivering strong returns for all our stakeholders."

Deanna Oppenheimer, chair of IHG, added: "It has been a pleasure to work with Keith, and on behalf of the board and our colleagues I want to thank him for his successful leadership of IHG and congratulate him on his remarkable contribution. Starting in our hotels in the US before moving into corporate roles that have seen him work across international markets, Keith has used all his experience to lead a true transformation of IHG in his six years as CEO. He has rallied a business around a clear strategy with hotel owners and guests at its heart, strengthened IHG's enterprise platform, and placed the business on a path to long-term sustainable growth and to continue an excellent track record of shareholder value creation. He has achieved this with great warmth and personality – not least during the depths of the pandemic – and we wish him the very best for the future.

"Succession planning has been a hallmark of the business for many years and Elie's appointment is the result of a rigorous process and a commitment to invest in the development of our leaders, as was the case when Keith became CEO in 2017. Elie has been an instrumental part of our business in his eight years running our largest operating region and as a member of the b since 2018. His significant industry experience and deep understanding of our business makes him extremely well placed to take on the role of CEO and ensure we continue to progress and execute against our successful strategy. The board and I look forward to working with him in his new position."

IHG also reported its first quarter trading update, with revenue per available room (revpar) up 33% on last year and 6.8% on 2019. Average daily rate (ADR) was up 11% compared to 2022, 10% compared to 2019, with occupancy increasing 10 percentage points from last year, but down two percentage points compared to 2019.

The group opened 45 hotels in the first quarter, ahead of 2022, taking it to 6,179 hotels globally – 66% across midscale segments and 34% across upscale and luxury, growth in which the business is seeking to accelerate. The company also signed 108 hotels, in-line with 2022, with a global pipeline of 1,906 hotels. Barr added that it had been a "good start to the year" with leisure travel remaining buoyant and further return of business and group travel, and occupancy almost back to pre-Covid levels.

"We opened eight thousand rooms across 45 hotels in the quarter, and while financing challenges for the wider commercial real estate industry are holding back new hotel development and opening activity fully returning to normal, we anticipate improving levels as the year progresses. Meanwhile, conversions increased to be over a third of both openings and signings in the period," he said.

"Whilst comparatives to 2022 get tougher from the second quarter onwards and there are ongoing economic uncertainties, IHG has continued to prove the resiliency of its business model and we remain confident about the strong tailwinds for attractive long-term, sustainable growth and value creation."

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