By the end of 2015, Rezidor's portfolio featured 100,000+ rooms in operation or under development – a milestone on the Group's growth journey in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Rezidor's long-term strategy targets asset-light, sustainable and geographically diversified growth that helps mitigate market volatility and drives margins. A specific focus is placed on emerging markets, where the portfolio has grown by 11% per annum since 2010 and is accelerated through a dedicated openings action plan launched in 2015. The Group's entrepreneurial, proactive and creative developers strongly believe in personal, trust-based and mutually beneficial relationships with hotel owners and business partners. The Business Development team works closely with Operations, Technical Services, Branding and Legal to provide owners with optimal deal structures and efficient project management and to maximise return on investment. Safety and security also play a crucial role: Rezidor's bespoke corporate security programme is acknowledged as best practice across the hospitality industry and is constantly refined to minimise risks in a changing world.
SIGNINGS AND OPENINGS
Rezidor's total portfolio grew to more than 100,000 rooms in 2015. Reflecting the momentum in many markets, the year was especially strong for signings: above the set target, the Group signed 41 hotels with 7,936 rooms (vs 32 hotels with 6,557 rooms in 2014). More than 80% of all signings were in emerging markets, and more than 85% were management agreements. Together with Carlson, Rezidor started to roll out the new lifestyle select brand Radisson RED and signed three projects in Cape Town (South Africa), Glasgow (UK) and Brussels (Belgium), with the first opening scheduled in the Belgian capital in April 2016. On a global basis, Radisson RED featured ten hotels under development at the end of last year. The new luxury brand Quorvus Collection also gained momentum, with a new signing and opening in Muscat (Oman). With Armenia, Congo, Cyprus, Kurdistan/Iraq, Mauritius, Slovenia and Togo, Rezidor entered seven new countries in the course of the year and is now present in 80 nations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Total 2015 openings amounted to 25 hotels with 4,152 rooms (vs 18 hotels with 3,464 rooms in 2014), and included five properties in Russia and three in Saudi Arabia despite the still challenging external environment in both countries. Rezidor also opened the first Radisson Blu hotels in Nairobi (Kenya) and Brazzaville (Congo), further strengthening the brand's presence in African capital cities. Two Radisson Blu openings in Mauritius expanded Rezidor's growing resort portfolio in leading leisure destinations.
EMERGING MARKETS AND KEY COUNTRIES
Young and dynamic merging markets remain Rezidor's most important development regions. 47% of the Group's operating room portfolio and 87% of the room pipeline is located in these up-and-coming regions, and supports profitability through high RevPAR and consequently high fee income. Despite external challenges, Rezidor believes in the long-term growth potential of emerging markets, and balances risks through its asset-light, fee-based business model and wide geographical spread.
Africa continues to be crucial to the Group's growth: it is a powerful continent with enormous natural and human resources, improving infrastructure and rapid urbanisation, a growing middle class and huge demand for modern, internationally branded accommodation.
With 35 hotels and 7,600 rooms Rezidor continues to have the largest pipeline of hotels and rooms under development in Africa* and operates and develops a total of 65 hotels with 14,300 rooms in 27 countries across the continent. The Group's development tools include unique features such as "AfriNord", a strategic alliance with several Nordic Development Funds to enhance business potential in Africa by providing equity financing to selected hotel owners and developers. Since its creation in 2005 and its extension in 2014, "AfriNord" has already supported hotel projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Sierra Leone and South Africa – creating 1,500 new permanent jobs, 40% of them for women.
Rezidor also maintained its leading position in 2015 in Russia/CIS & Baltics – defying the still tense market environment. With a total of 77 hotels and 18,450 rooms, the Group remained the largest international hotel operator in the region. Its operating room count is twice as high as the room count of its nearest competitor.
In Turkey, Rezidor opened another Radisson Blu in Istanbul in late 2015 and strengthened Radisson Blu as the largest upper upscale brand in the city: the portfolio now comprises nine hotels with almost 2,000 rooms in operation or under development. The mid-scale brand Park Inn by Radisson also continued to grow: during the past year the Park Inn by Radisson Istanbul Atatürk Airport was opened and two further properties were signed.
Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer