Holiday Inn owner IHG's finance chief, Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson, is leaving to join bookmaker Flutter Entertainment, the hotel group said on Friday 21 October, disappointing investors who had praised his performance during the pandemic.
Shares in IHG fell 3.7% by 0755 GMT on Friday 21 October, with analysts at Citi calling Edgecliffe-Johnson's departure after eight years as CFO "disappointing".
Edgecliffe-Johnson, 50, who has been with IHG for almost two decades and led the group through the worst of the pandemic, will join Flutter Entertainment in early 2023.
Get a FREE Digital Subscription!Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
Flutter's London-listed shares were up marginally.
News of his exit overshadowed IHG's third quarter results, which showed group room revenue (RevPAR) in July-September exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time, jumping 28% from a year early and came in 2.7% higher than the same period in 2019.
IHG, which also owns Crowne Plaza, Regent and Hualuxe, said occupancy levels remained below 2019 levels in the quarter, but the average daily rate was up 11% versus 2019.
Hotel operators are benefiting as people spend more on travel and book longer hotel stays, lifting occupancy rates and prices, although they are facing risks from stubborn inflation and a cost-of-living crisis that cast a cloud over winter demand.
"The industry is experiencing lower levels of new hotel opening activity, and with a particular impact from the restrictions in China," Chief Executive Keith Barr said in a statement.
RevPAR in the third quarter in China was down 20% from 2019 levels, while the UK was up 7% in the same period and Americas, its largest regions, was up 6.8%.
London's Heathrow airport warned of a possible slowdown in travel demand this winter, while major airlines said demand for travel was holding up.
Hotel Prices Will Keep Increasing
Hotel prices will keep increasing in 2023 in most of the key cities for business events worldwide, though at a slower pace due to a worsening economic outlook, American Express Global Business Travel said earlier this month.