Chic economy B&B Hotels plans 30 hotels a year
11 AUGUST 2014 8:30 AM
France’s B&B Hôtels has plans to expand at a rate of 30 hotels a year, with a highly focused brand identification: “econochic”—chic economy hotels.
BRITTANY, France—Under a strongly differentiating sales point of “econochic”—chic economy hotels—France’s B&B Hôtels has been gradually making its mark at home and in key European markets for two decades.
Now the group is intensifying expansion under what President Georges Sampeur calls “a very ambitious development program” at the rate of 30 hotels a year.
The group’s first hotel opened in Brittany in 1990, and Sampeur said the chain now counts about 310 hotels, with the majority in France and Germany. Of the company’s nearly 25,000 rooms, approximately 19,000 are located in France.
The group’s biggest hotel, and 222nd in France, opened in the Parisian region in June: the 265-room Porte des Lilas.
Development accelerated, Sampeur said, first in 2003 with funds from the European investment firm Eurazeo. Recent growth followed the group’s €480-million ($644-million) acquisition in September 2010 by global private equity giant The Carlyle Group and subsequent investment in renovations and openings.
At the time The Carlyle Group said in a news release that it hoped to help B&B grow “into the top pan-European operator of budget hotels,” bolstered by the brand’s strong record of high customer satisfaction and market performance.
Since then, B&B’s strategy for European expansion has seen the opening of more than two dozen hotels a year, as turnovers increased in spite of the economic crisis.
“There is serious development potential for us because the rate of penetration of hotel chains in the budget segment is very weak across Europe,” he said. “Chains have a much bigger presence in the mid- and upmarket sectors, whereas independent domestic operators essentially account for most budget hotels.”
With that in mind, Sampeur confirmed at least another 30 B&B hotels will open by the end of next year, with up to half of them franchises.
As it prepares for further development, B&B has its eyes set on markets beyond Europe, Sampeur said.
“We have ambitions for development in each of our existing European markets as well as new markets, such as Spain and Brazil,” he said.
Quality and quantity
The group stands apart from competition such as Accor and the Louvre Hotels Group, Sampeur said, with its highly focused brand identification: a budget chain prioritizing design-centric room furnishings, high-tech fittings and sustainable measures, such as recycling of pillows.
“Our emphasis is on the room quality and a very diverse breakfast. We don’t do restaurants or bars but focus on the services instead: a good quality room—good sound proofing—a solid bathroom built with traditional materials and free high-speed Internet of 100MB.
“We are the only brand with this much clearer strategy, a strong concept of very modern hotels with a major emphasis on design in our development.”
Furthermore, the design is strongly in tune with the locale. “Country by country, we take a very trendy and fresh approach and adapt the design very strongly to each market. In each hotel there is a strong wink at local culture reflected in the design.
“We like a surprise element and so do our customers.”
For each country, the client base varies, Sampeur said.
“Italy leans more to the leisure clientele. France has 60% business and 40% leisure, Germany 75% business and 20% leisure,” he said.