Tata group hospitality arm Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has added a significant number of properties to its portfolio through management contracts this financial year and will continue to scout for larger properties, including iconic assets going ahead, a top company official said.
"So far in the current fiscal, we have signed 24 hotels with an inventory of over 2,800 keys. We will be signing a few more this quarter taking the total to more than last year's numbers.
"We feel we are ahead of the game and so we have to focus on absorbing this growth," IHCL managing director and CEO Puneet Chhatwal told PTI.
These 24 properties include four Taj hotels, two SeleQtions hotels, nine Vivanta hotels and nine Ginger hotels.
"We are looking at existing brownfield assets which we can add to our portfolio without waiting for 4-5 years for them to start generating income," Chhatwal said.
A brownfield asset is a developed asset, however, it may still require ongoing capital expenditure and expansion.
Chhatwal further said going forward, the company will be doing big-box or larger properties under the Ginger brand as well as under other brands.
The company has already embarked on the 'Aspiration 2022' strategy under which it is looking to improve margins, reducing ownership of properties to 50 per cent and monetising non-core assets.
"As a part of our strategy to become asset light, we are going to sell some of our hotels under the Ginger brand and take them back on rent so the current management stays in place. This will also be true with other hotels that are a part of joint ventures or under associate companies," he added.
Chhatwal said the focus on becoming asset-light and monetisation of non-core assets has resulted in a decline of the company's debt to Rs 1,900 crore at present, from Rs 3,100 crore in 2017.
"From the net debt to EBITDA ratio of 6.4 some years back, we have managed to bring it down to 2.11 as of FY2019 and to a further 1.76 as of December 31, 2019. We do not intend to increase the debt levels from hereon," Chhatwal added.
Chhatwal, however, did not elaborate further on the company's asset monetisation plans.
IHCL has reported a 25.37 per cent rise in consolidated PAT for December 31, 2019 quarter at Rs 213.17 crore as against Rs 170.03 crore for the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.
Its consolidated total income rose to Rs 1,408.91 crore for the quarter under consideration as against Rs 1,337.97 crore a year-ago.
"This growth is mainly the result of our strategy to be asset light and efforts taken to improve margins," he added.
When asked about its new venture in the homestays segment, Chhatwal said, "we have already signed six bungalows under Ama Stays & Trails during the current fiscal, taking the portfolio to 19 bungalows. We continue to evaluate properties and by December end of 2020, we hope to take this portfolio to 50 bungalows."
Incorporated by the founder of the Tata group, Jamsetji Tata, the company opened its first hotel -- The Taj Mahal Palace, in Bombay in 1903. IHCL has a portfolio of 197 hotels, including 40 under development globally across 4 continents, 12 countries and in over 100 locations.
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