Hotel group Accor beats on core earnings, bullish on Chinese tourists
By Tristan Chabba and Anna Mackenzie
(Reuters) -Europe's biggest hotel group Accor on Thursday forecast higher revenue per available room (RevPAR) for 2023 as Chinese travelers are expected to return, after its annual core profit beat expectations on strong December activity.
Hotel chains were hit hard by China's strict pandemic restrictions and are now hoping for a recovery in the Asia-Pacific region, Accor's second biggest market pre-pandemic.
The group, which runs chains such as Sofitel, Pullman and Ibis, said it expected 2023 RevPAR to increase by between 5% and 9% from the previous year.
Boosted by demand for shorter trips, European hotel chains have seen bookings recover to levels comparable to those in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic grounded international flights.
Accor's RevPAR, a key gauge of performance for the hotel industry, last year exceeded the 2019 pre-pandemic level by 2%.
Its regional division comprising India, Africa, the Middle East and Turkey saw a 73% rise in RevPAR in the last quarter of the year compared to 2019, boosted by high demand during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The Asia-Pacific was the only region with RevPAR below pre-pandemic levels in the final quarter of the year, mainly due to China, which Accor said sets it up for potential rebound this year.
The group added in a call with reporters that 2022 was too early to see the effects of the end of China's zero COVID policy in December.
Accor also announced Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Morin left his position as CFO, as a new CFO is expected to arrive in early May of this year.
Accor shares edged up 1.1% at 0832 GMT following the release of the results.
Accor opened 299 hotels last year, marking a 3.2% net organic growth to over 800,000 rooms worldwide.
It posted core profit of 675 million euros ($716.72 million) for 2022, while analysts in a Refinitiv poll had expected 640.3 million euros.
The French-listed firm also said it would propose a dividend of 1.05 euros per shares for 2022.
($1 = 0.9418 euros)
(Reporting by Tristan Chabba and Anna Mackenzie in Gdansk; Editing by Milla Nissi and Kim Coghill)