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‘Our objective in Nigeria is to increase our hotel portfolio by 50 percent by 2025’

Since berthing in Nigeria in 2011, Radisson Hotel Group has shown commitment to growing the brand and offering its Nigerian guests premium quality. From one hotel in 2011, nine properties open and under development in 2021, the group is targeting 15 hotels open and under development by 2025.

In this interview, Erwan Garnier, Senior Director, Development, Africa, Radisson Hotel Group, tells Obinna Emelike why Nigeria is a key market for the group, commitment to the African expansion focus despite the pandemic, among other related issues. Excerpt.

Congratulations Mr. Erwan Garnier for the great work and particularly for leading the group’s expansion plans in Nigeria. Why the interest in Nigeria and what is the group’s portfolio in Nigeria?

Thank you so much. Nigeria remains a key market for Radisson Hotel Group as we expand our reach across West Africa, where we have a portfolio of more than 20 properties open and under development. In Nigeria alone, we currently have nine properties open and under development with five properties operating in Lagos and Abeokuta under our award winning upper upscale brand, Radisson Blu, our upscale brand Radisson and our upper midscale brand, Park Inn by Radisson.

Four properties are currently under development in Abuja and Lagos under our luxury brand Radisson Collection with the upcoming Radisson Collection Hotel Ikoyi Lagos and Radisson Collection Hotel Emerald Grand Hotel & Spa and then our upper upscale brand Radisson Blu Hotel Abuja City Centre and upscale brand Radisson Hotel Abuja Gudu.

Our ambition is to be the market leader in Nigeria with 15 hotels open and under development by 2025. We plan to introduce all our brands across the country, which will comprise of hotels, serviced apartments and resorts.

When is your next hotel opening and where in Nigeria?

Our upcoming openings in Nigeria include the Radisson Collection Hotel Ikoyi as well as Radisson Hotel Abuja Gudu, both on track to open their doors next year. In 2024, we are looking forward to opening The Emerald Grand Hotel & Spa Lagos, a Radisson Collection.

It seems Radisson Hotel brands are becoming favourites of Nigerian hoteliers and investors. Why are they sought-after and what are the unique selling points?

Over the years, Radisson Hotel Group has built a strong presence in the market, with our first hotel, Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel Lagos in Victoria Island, in operation since 2011 and now the ambition to be the market leader in Nigeria with 15 hotels open and under development by 2025.

Radisson Blu is one of the fastest growing hotel brands in Africa and is also the largest upper upscale brand in Europe for the last 10 consecutive years. What sets us apart is an owner-centric approach with dedicated teams and relevant brands (lowest development cost and access to development solutions), plus our adaptive solutions to meet local needs (compact offering, midscale to luxury, serviced apartments, lean operational model, clustering efficiencies).

Which of your brands is outperforming the others in the Nigerian market and why?

Despite the global economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic, we remain fully committed to our growth and development in Nigeria. The pandemic has changed the way the group operates worldwide and in Nigeria by adapting to the new reality and safety standards, which includes the implementation of security and hygiene procedures under the SGS partnership. As a response to the pandemic, Radisson Hotel Group has also created a brand, Radisson Individuals with the aim of benefiting from the commercial engine of Radisson Hotel Group, while reducing the investment entry to be part of the Radisson network. We expect our growth across the country to be centred on mid-scale (Park Inn by Radisson brand) and entry upscale hotels (Radisson brand) as well as serviced apartments (all six brands).

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Many Nigerians who have experienced the enthralling Radisson RED offerings are looking forward to the berthing of the brand in Nigeria, when is that likely going to happen?

We are currently in discussion to expand the Radisson RED brand in Nigeria. Our aim is to first develop the brand within Lagos.

What do you think is unique about the Nigerian market and do you think the pandemic has impacted so much on it?

Nigeria is the largest economy of the continent and comprises multiple ethnicities and cultures. Nigeria remains a very attractive market for Radisson Hotel Group with most of the new hotels in Lagos and Abuja as Nigeria has a strong urban infrastructure to accommodate the increase in rooms in those cities. Air traffic between Lagos and Abuja is one of the busiest routes in Africa and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos is the fifth busiest in Africa serving more than eight million travellers annually.

Our objective in Nigeria is to increase our portfolio by 50 percent by 2025. The prime focus of expansion is Abuja, the capital city of the country followed by Lagos and Port Harcourt. We foresee developing each of our six brands in Nigeria, which includes Radisson Collection (entry luxury), Radisson Blu (upper upscale), Radisson (upscale), Radisson RED (Lifestyle upscale), Park Inn by Radisson (upper midscale) and finally our newest brand Radisson Individuals (upscale for conversion under affiliation agreement).

With the high inflation and diminishing purchasing power of many Nigerians, do you plan for cheaper hotel brands to cater for such a group of guests?

Radisson Hotel Group has a range of brands from 3 star and 5 star positioning. Park Inn by Radisson is our upper midscale brand. We currently have two hotels under the Park Inn by Radisson brand operating in Nigeria, namely the Park Inn by Radisson Abeokuta and Park Inn by Radisson Serviced Apartments Lagos Victoria Island.

On the African scene, the group said it has made Africa the center of its growth strategy, with almost 100 hotels across 32 African markets, are you still keen on running with the strategy?

We most certainly still identify the vast potential of the African continent and the resilience it has showcased throughout the pandemic in comparison to its more developed counterparts in the North has certainly reaffirmed this.

Is your target of 150 hotels in operation and under development by 2025 still achievable?

Despite the current situation, we are on track to support the robust expansion strategy, with our teams working tirelessly to reach our objective to have 150 hotels open and under development by 2025 across the continent.

You also announced plans for over 12 new hotel signings, 2000 rooms this year, how far have you gone with the plan?

To date this year, we have already announced 11 new hotel signings in Africa and are preparing to announce a few more before year-end, in our key markets, supporting our robust African expansion strategy.

We have announced so far the launch of our first project, the Earl Heights Suite Hotel, a member of Radisson Individuals in Accra, Ghana joining our new affiliation brand; our market entry in Victory Falls with the introduction of Radisson Blu Resort Mosi-Oa-Tunya Livingstone as well as another new entry with Radisson Hotel Djibouti.

Reinforcing our new strategy and balanced approach across Africa, we have also secured a record growth in Morocco with an additional eight hotels including the debut of our Radisson brand in Casablanca with the signing of Radisson Hotel Casablanca La Citadelle as well as the recent seven additional hotels across key leisure destinations in the country.

These announcements have reaffirmed Radisson Hotel Groups’ presence as the hotel company active in most countries on the African continent.

You recently introduced Radisson Collection to Africa, how is the new brand doing?

Radisson Collection is a unique collection of iconic properties, reflecting an authentic local influence, living design and vibrant social scene. Two Radisson Collection hotels as mentioned are currently under development in Lagos: Radisson Collection Hotel Ikoyi due to open in 2022 and The Emerald Grand Hotel & Spa Lagos, a Radisson Collection due to open in 2024. Our aim is to accelerate the expansion of our luxury brand across West Africa including in Abuja, Accra, Abidjan and Dakar and form a collection of iconic hotels.

We have gone half a year, what are your projections for the second half of the year for the hospitality industry in Nigeria and Africa at large?

Continuing our African expansion focus, we have close to 100 hotels open or under development across 32 African markets, making us one of the largest international hotel groups present.

We have reinforced our team and resources in order to not only increase the momentum of our growth ambitions but also to better respond to the needs of the investment community in each market with the right skill set and relevant solutions. We seek to form wider partnerships and strategic ventures with local or regional chains and forge ahead with our city scale and critical mass strategy.

We are excitedly also on track to open 10 hotels across the continent before year-end, making this a record year for us in our African expansion, despite the challenges of the current pandemic.

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