Europe's biggest hotel group, Accor, has recorded an annual loss, as coronavirus lockdowns and border closures weighed throughout the year, but noted signs of improvement in Asia, Middle East and Africa and South America in the fourth quarter and in January.
Accor, which had to close many of its hotels last year, is now running at reduced capacity with many countries, particularly in Europe, going back into lockdown, implementing curfews or increasing travel restrictions to tackle coronavirus infections and new variants of the virus.
The French company, which operates more than 5,000 hotels in approximately 110 countries, noted that 82% of its hotels were open as of end-December, compared with 90% at end-September.
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"However, excluding Europe, revenue per available room, a gauge of performance, has increased steadily since the low-point of the second quarter," Accor finance chief Jean-Jacques Morin said on a call with reporters.
He added that he sees a return to 2019 levels around 2023-2024.
The group, which runs high-end chains such as Raffles and Sofitel, as well as budget brands such as Ibis, swung to a €391 million loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2020, compared to a profit of €825 million in 2019.
Its net loss for the year reached almost €2 billion. Accor also confirmed the swift rollout of the €200 million recurring cost savings plan that it announced in August of 2020.