Accor finds one fine way to fend off online competition

French group buys British luxury home rental firm for $228m and will help it expand globally

PARIS • AccorHotels, Europe's largest hotel group by room numbers, said yesterday it has bought British high-end serviced home rental company Onefinestay as it fights the rising challenge of online home-sharing company Airbnb and further expands its luxury footprint.

The world's fifth-largest hotel group, undergoing a reorganisation initiated by CEO Sebastien Bazin, said it paid €148 million (S$228 million) for Onefinestay and pledged to invest a further €64 million to help the company grow worldwide.

Onefinestay, launched in London in 2010, has a portfolio of 2,600 properties in London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles. It allows people to rent other people's homes for short periods.

With the help of French chain AccorHotels, Onefinestay plans to expand to 40 new cities worldwide over the next five years, growing revenue tenfold from around £15 million (S$29 million) last year.

AccorHotels said Onefinestay will remain an independent business unit within the group and will continue to be led by co-founder Greg Marsh and his management.

Mr Bazin has warned that revenue from AccorHotels and other traditional hoteliers is under threat from Airbnb and booking websites. His response has been to invest in digital and to expand the range of food and drinks offerings.

The move is the latest signal that a wave of consolidation is hitting the hotel industry, with companies joining forces to fend off threats.

Traditional hotel chains are not only combining with each other but also investing in online sites that seek to disrupt their business models, the Financial Times reports.

Last week, Starwood confirmed that it was accepting a US$13.3 billion (S$18 billion) cash and stock offer from US rival Marriott International.

Last December, Accor bought FRHI Hotels & Resorts, the owner of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel hotel chains, in a deal worth US$2.9 billion in cash and shares.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Accor finds one fine way to fend off online competition'. Print Edition | Subscribe