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ITC-Welcomgroup to invest $2 b to double room inventory 11 Jan 2011

The Hindu Business Line

ITC-Welcomgroup, the second largest hotel chain in the country and a division of ITC Ltd, plans to invest over $2 billion (around Rs 9,000 crore) in the next 2-3 years to double its room inventory across the country.

“We are pursuing an aggressive investment-led growth strategy, and are adding large properties to our portfolio of super luxury hotels,” said Mr Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Ltd.

In the near term, two ITC Luxury Collection hotels are planned - a 600-room hotel in Chennai and a 400-room hotel adjacent to ITC Sonar in Kolkata. Though the focus will be on such super premium hotels, ITC will develop properties across its four categories - luxury hotels (under ITC prefixed brands), business class hotels (under the Welcomhotels brand), budget hotels (Fortune Hotels brand) and heritage properties (Welcomheritage).

“When we talk about growth, we are not talking in terms of one or two brands here and there. It will be our full portfolio, across all segments. That is what we believe is required to successfully deliver on our ambition and goal to achieve competitive growth,” he said.

Current portfolio

The group currently owns and manages 100 hotels in more than 80 locations with close to 8,000 rooms across the four brands. (Some of these hotels have co-branding arrangement with two international brands - ‘Luxury Collection' and ‘Sheraton', franchised from global major Starwood International.)

And, there are about 40 hotels under various stages of development which will be either owned or managed by the company.

“In the next few years, we will have a portfolio of approximately 150 hotels. In the premium segment alone, we have four hotels under construction and another six to seven hotels on the drawing board,” said Mr Anand.

Biz tourism

To a specific question, he said India is still grossly under-roomed. ITC-Welcomgroup foresees a steep increase in business-induced tourism in the country. The leisure segment is yet to show positive signs.

“However, my belief is that the next two years auger well for the hospitality industry in India in terms of demand and the regular injection of new rooms will ensure that the consumer will always find value for the money he spends.”

Overseas foray?

Though the company's priority will continue to be to consolidate its position domestically, “If there comes an appropriate opportunity that is aligned to our value proposition, we will go international too.”

© ITC Limited