UP TO 400 new Accor brand hotels will open in China within the next five years under Huazhu Hotels Group, which has been named the exclusive master franchisee in a newly sealed alliance that will create one of the largest hotel groups in the country.
Huazhu, also known as China Lodging Group, will operate and develop Accor’s Ibis, Ibis Styles, Novotel, Mercure, and Grand Mercure brands in mainland China, Mongolia, and Taiwan.
It will also take a 10 per cent share of Accor’s luxury and upscale business in China and offer support to the French hospitality giant.
With hotels spanning the entire market spectrum, Huazhu comes to the table with over 1,900 hotels of its own.
At the same time, the two companies have agreed to grant Accor a 10 per cent stake in Huazhu and a seat on the board of directors.
Ji Qi, chairman and CEO of Huzahu Hotels Group, said in a statement: “With an extensive brand portfolio, and strong distribution and loyalty platforms, Accor and Huzahu share a lot of common values. By combining forces we can facilitate growth and attract more customers to the expanded network.”
The agreement will also allow customers of both loyalty programmes – a combined market of 47 million – access to a network of more than 5,600 hotels internationally.
Sebastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor, said: “This major step is key to our digital transformation as the agreement will link the power of both groups’ reservation and loyalty platforms, providing an expanded distribution capability.
“China today is the largest outbound tourism market in the world; in that context, creating one of the largest hotel groups in China will lead to growth globally as those travellers come to recognise Accor and Huazhu’s brands and expand their travel internationally.”
He added: “This agreement will also help us better anticipate customers’ expectations and strengthen our leadership in the Chinese market over the long term.”