May 3, 2019 / 6:27 AM / 7 months ago

Weaker France and China demand weigh on InterContinental

(Reuters) - InterContinental Hotels Group Plc said fewer people checked into its hotels in the first quarter due to lower demand in China, South Korea and France.

The ticker symbol and company logo for InterContinental Hotels Group is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

InterContinental, whose 13 brands include Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo, reported a 0.3 percent rise in room revenue as strong demand in the Latin America and Caribbean markets was offset by weakness in the Greater China region.

Occupany rates slipped 0.2 percent in the period

The FTSE 100 company’s shares fell 3.3 percent to 4,833 pence in the first hour of trading before cutting their losses to 1 percent by 0915 GMT.

IHG reported a 3 percent fall in revenue per available room (RevPaR) in France as it felt the impact of the “yellow vest” protest.

In South Korea, the company reported a 30 percent plunge in RevPar, because of tough comparisons due to the Winter Olympics hosted in the country last year.

The company has been focusing on business customers and expanding its luxury offerings to fight the rising challenges posed by companies such as Airbnb and online travel agents.

Weak demand in China’s smaller cities meant the company reported flat room revenue. Accor SA, Europe’s biggest hotel group, recently said weakness in Asia held back growth in RevPAR in its first quarter.

InterContinental Chief Executive Officer Keith Barr said on a call that China, where the company operates 400 hotels, would continue to be an important market.

Barr has steered the company towards affluent Chinese customers to lessen dependence on highly mature U.S. markets, while aggressively rebranding to compete against the likes of Marriott International Inc and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Writing by Noor Zainab Hussain; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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