Hotel chain hit hard

Under normal circumstances, holiday seasons are lucrative for hotels, but observers will be waiting to see whether the USA terrorist attacks have had a huge impact on hotels giant Six Continents.

The company, which announces its results on Thursday, has already acknowledged the New York and Washington attacks will reduce profits in its hotel division.

At a presentation earlier this month, group finance director Richard North told a hotel conference in London that 11 September would have an impact on Six Continents’ results.

The company said its hotel division, which includes the Holiday Inn, Inter-Continental and Crown Plaza chains, would lose about $25m (#17.7m) as a direct result of 11 September, with a loss in profits particularly in the United States and Europe.

Besides hotels in New York, including its Wall Street hotel which closed for ten days following the world trade atrocity, business dropped in Chicago, San Francisco, London, Paris and Hong Kong. In its retail business which includes Harvester, Ember Inns and All Bar One, Six Continents said its outlets in Central London were the only ones to have been impacted by the events of 11 September.

The magnitude of the losses, both past and for the near future, can only be estimated. In a recent survey, accountancy firm PKF, which specialises in the hotel sector, said room occupancy in London had dropped a dramatic 33.4% compared to last year, with room rates also falling 13.9%.

PKF declared the drop the biggest since the Gulf war, adding ‘this time occupancy and room rates have combined to create the most lethal cocktail served in London’s hotels for many years’.

Six Continents changed its name from Bass in July to ‘reflect its spread of business interests’.

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