Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Indian Hotels to scale up F&B biz, plans to bring in new brands

The move is in line with the company's ongoing plan to expand margin, boost profitability and focus on leveraging its other established brands and businesses other than its flagship Taj hotels

MUMBAI : Tata group firm Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), which operates Taj luxury hotels, will focus on scaling up its food and beverage brands with plans to take few of its existing ones into the overseas while bringing in new brands into the country, a top company official said.

The move is in line with the company's ongoing plan to expand margin, boost profitability and focus on leveraging its other established brands and businesses other than its flagship Taj hotels.

Six months ago, the Tata group created a new category called Expressions where it has brought all its 380 food and beverage brands including names like Shamiana, Wasabi and House of Ming under one umbrella. At present, food and beverages business contributes over 40% to IHCL's total revenue.

"There is no one size that fits everything. We have to do a combination of things... Before you would have only seen Taj. We have diverse businesses and we have all done to support the Taj brand. Taj brand does not need the support. In the meantime, some of the (other) brands have become mature and we have decided to let them grow in its own, " Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) told reporters.

The company, that has long been on a path to reduce debt and gain profitability, currently operates around 200 hotels across 25,000 rooms. It has monetise assets worth around Rs175 crore in the last one year, Chhatwal said, adding that the company will continue to sell non-core assets even as as it plans to launch more than one hotel each month mainly though asset light model.

At present, its net debt stands at around Rs1,900 crore.

Chhatwal said IHCL is on a path of transforming itself from being known just as a hotel company to creating an ecosystem to becoming the largest hospitality company. It is focused on expanding its aircatering business Taj Sat, a joint venture formed in 2001 between IHCL and Singapore-based SAT Ltd.

This year, the Tata-group also entered into the homestay business under the new brand called Ama Stays & Trails and has also created a new salon business.

"We are bringing new F&B concepts. We are redefining Chambers Club and we also doing re-doing Khazana. So there are these subbrands or supporting brands that have helped drive the topline growth and drive margins. Some of them are iconic like Shamiana, Wasabi and Ming Yang. We are looking at how we can scale up these brands.. This we have never done before," Chatwal said.

The company is currently setting up a new brewery pub '7 Rivers' in Bengaluru in partnership with Belgium-based brewery firm AB InBev. Besides, it is also launching Italian restaurant brand Paper Moon in India by June this year followed by five more in the coming months.

At present, IHCL has a portfolio of 200 hotels with 42 under development. The company has also created a new collection of hotels called 'Seleqtion' where it clubs all the other hotel properties.

In financial year 2019-2020, IHCL has opened almost one hotel every month with a total of 12 properties. The company aims to open more than one hotel in the next financial mainly management contracts.

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