Thailand-headquartered Minor Hotels is now planning an aggressive expansion strategy in India, after growing its European footprint via the acquisition of a 94% stake in Europe-based NH Hotels. The brand has recently announced its first hotel in India, Anantara Jaipur Hotel. In a conversation with Asmita Mukherjee, Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels expressed that the brand is eyeing solid global expansion of its eight hotel brands for which they continue looking at opportunities to grow their portfolio through acquisitions or investments in India as well.
Minor Hotels has acquired a 94% stake in NH Hotels. Was it a calculated move to explore the European market?
Minor Hotels acquisition of NH Hotel Group was a calculated opportunistic move! Our growth is both strategic and opportunistic at the same time. We are always looking for opportunities to expand our brands into new territories, which supports our long-term growth plans. NH was perfect in this regard, as it allowed us to achieve an even balance of hotels and resorts; owned, managed and leased, across a more global spread of countries – without cannibalizing our existing brands. In addition, we balanced a leisure-heavy portfolio and a corporate-heavy portfolio through the acquisition and integration.
Before acquiring NH, 80% of our portfolio was in Asia Pacific and we were keen to pursue a diversification strategy. Countries like Thailand have been prone to political unrest, and ensuring a more balanced portfolio was essential as we grew the portfolio.
Five years on from our acquisition of NH Hotel Group, Minor Hotels is accelerating the exchange of guests and growth of brands between Asia and Europe, including moving into city hotels. As well as adding Anantara and Avani properties in Europe – a strong strategic focus for us. In addition, we are growing the NH Collection and NH Hotels brands in Asia and the Middle East with a number of exciting launches.
Do you have any such plans to acquire stakes in other markets as well, specially for India, in which you have recently opened a property through a management contract?
Minor Hotels continues to eye solid global expansion of our eight hotel brands, with 50 new hotels earmarked to open globally in 2023 and 2024, adding more than 10,000 keys to the portfolio in major gateway cities and resort destinations. That said, we continue to look at opportunities to expand our portfolio through acquisition or investment. It’s all about adding stakeholder value. Such expansion can be both organic and inorganic. Any additional acquisitions need to be the right fit and at the right price.
We firmly believe in the potential of India as a growth destination for Minor Hotels and are currently in several discussions for opportunities for our core brands.
How important is the Indian market for Minor Hotels?
India has great potential, both from a domestic perspective and also from an outbound perspective. I recently attended HICSA in Bangalore as we firmly believe in the potential of the Indian hospitality sector. Given the recent announcement of our first Anantara in India, I look forward to ramping up our development plans over the course of 2023.
As a global brand is Minor Hotels following an asset-light model?
Minor Hotels follows an ‘asset right’ strategy which ensures a sound balance of owned, managed, leased and JV. As a hospitality and lifestyle operator, our vision is not to be the biggest company, it is to be the most profitable while delivering a superior experience to all stakeholders.
According to you, is the occupancy and REVPAR in Asia doing better than in Europe?
Europe is doing well, Asia is doing well, Australia is also doing well etc. This is our first-year post-COVID that we have no restrictions in any of the regions that we operate, so there is a clear resurgence in travel. We believe this trend is here to stay for some time, and it is our role to maximise the opportunity and continue to drive our business forward.
Which products of Minor Hotels are you planning to promote in the next 3 years?
We will continue expanding our existing 8 brands into new territories and grow our portfolio of hotels to 600 through organic growth and perhaps inorganic acquisition, depending on the opportunity. We will also continue to change the hotel market mix by introducing our Asian-based guests to our European (and elsewhere) hotels and, of course, our Europe-based guests to our Asian portfolio.