InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (LON:IHG) is taking a cautious line on any recovery in the hospitality business after slumping into a loss in 2020.
Keith Barr, the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza group’s chief executive, said: “2020 was clearly the most challenging year in our history, with COVID-19 heavily impacting demand across our industry.
“2021 has begun with many of these challenges still in place, with more meaningful progress towards recovery for the industry unlikely until later in the year and dependent on global vaccine rollouts, lifting of restrictions and an acceleration in economic activity.”
Revenue fell 48% to US$2.39bn (£1.70bn) in the year to end-December with a loss before tax of US$280mln, compared to profits of US$542mln for the preceding year.
Recovery was most advanced in Greater China, Barr said, adding the group is pressing ahead with its expansion plans to take advantage when things do pick up again.
The size of the estate is now 886,000 rooms with a further 272,000 planned.
IHG added it saw a cash inflow in the second half of the year and had total available liquidity of US$2.1bn at the end of December including a £600mln UK COVID-19 support that is due for repayment in March.
“Despite so many challenges in 2020, the long-term confidence we share with our owners was reflected by another 285 hotels opening during the year and an average of almost one new signing a day,” Barr added.