A year after delisting from the London Stock Exchange, Millennium
& Copthorne Hotels (M&C) says its privatisation move has
afforded it greater agility and cushioned the impact of the pandemic.
The London-headquartered hospitality group revealed that its 145
hotels across some 80 locations worldwide have started to show 'green
shoots' of improvements in occupancy and gross operating profit from 2H
2020, with the trend expected to gain momentum in 2021.
In Singapore, where M&C operates more than 2,000 hotel rooms,
several properties will resume pre-Covid activities such as selling
rooms, corporate bookings, events and weddings in the coming months.
In response to the rise of the telecommuting trend, Grand Copthorne
Waterfront and Orchard Hotel have already reassigned areas on property
as pay-per-use co-working spaces, while Studio M and M Hotel are next on
the list. Meanwhile, M&C's London hotels have also re-purposed
rooms for customers who want the space for work.
Across properties in Southeast Asia, Taipei and in the UK, F&B
menus have been shortened and rotated frequently to accommodate the
fewer kitchen staff available.
M&C recorded 163,000 staycation nights in the first 10 months of
2020, with at least 65% made directly on the brand website by loyalty
members. As of end-September, online channels accounted for 80% of
bookings, marking a 56% hike from 2019.
As corporate business slowly returns, the group has expressed that
some parts of the offline bookings will be handled digitally as well.
Looking ahead, M&C will review its global footprint to align with
objectives of parent company, City Developments Limited (CDL), a
Singapore Exchange-listed global real estate company with total assets
of over S$23.8 billion (US$17.8 billion).
M&C will focus on key gateway cities including Singapore, London
and New York, zooming into key brands within the four-star sector: M
Collection, Millennium Collection and Copthorne Collection; as well as
several properties in the five-star sector under Leng's Collection.
To better suit future market conditions, the group has closed
Copthorne Penang since July and deferred renovation for Millennium
Hilton Downtown in New York.
M&C is assessing at least three offers of expressions of interest
for various assets globally, and the sale of any of these assets, if
concluded, is likely to result in significant gain on disposal.
All these initiatives mean M&C's global room inventory of more
than 40,000 at the end of 2019 might be reduced, but the company said
the revised footprint and inventory better position it for recovery.
"M&C is strengthening its foundations to prepare for a recovery
in hotel operations from as early as 2021. Our product has been refined
to offer new revenue streams. We have improved processes, cost structure
and digital marketing, amongst other efforts, as we prepare for
improvements in business sentiment and confidence to travel. By
streamlining our global portfolio in line with the strategy of our
parent, M&C will emerge stronger and better positioned to benefit
from a post-Covid-19 environment," said Lee Richards, vice-president
operations, Southeast Asia, Millennium Hotels and Resorts.