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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » April 19, 2016
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Orbis: A Successful Transformation
April 19, 2016   
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Gilles Clavie, president and CEO of Polish hotel operator Orbis, talks to the Voice’s Juliusz Kłosowski.

Orbis is a Polish company listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. It is also one of the oldest and best recognized Polish brands. Established in 1920, today Orbis is the largest hospitality player in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe. The company is a key component of the Accor Group. In January last year, Orbis acquired AccorHotels’ operations in Eastern Europe. The transaction was worth over 142 million euros. Has this huge investment produced the expected results?

We successfully concluded the transaction with AccorHotels, our strategic partner and shareholder in January last year. In consequence Orbis Hotel Group took over AccorHotels’ operations in Eastern Europe and became the exclusive licensor of all AccorHotels brands in 16 countries of the Eastern Europe (EE) region. The transaction perfectly matched our strategy. We have restructured our portfolio and improved the quality of our assets, creating a healthy ecosystem to further develop the company, also at the regional level. Orbis Group entered these prospective markets by acquiring a healthy hotel network, mainly located in capital cities. So having done that we recorded a significant business increase and strengthened our leading position as the key hotel operator in Eastern Europe with more than 100 hotels.

As an international hotel corporation, Orbis can contribute to the creation of the common market, which increases competitiveness, improves customer perception, and represents higher prestige. Our presence on different markets enables the company to achieve diversification benefits and minimizes its operational risks.

Did the overall performance of the Orbis/AccorHotels network in the region improve? What are Orbis’ results for 2015?

Thanks to the transaction, Orbis’ business scale significantly increased. We reported a double-digit growth of major indicators, including considerable RevPAR growth in all the countries of the region—a 10.6-percent increase at the group level. That was possible thanks to both sales and revenue management actions and favorable economic conditions. The improved operating figures resulted in a 8.3-percent pro-forma increase (excluding the effect of one-off events) in net sales to 302 million euros. The occupancy rate has shown a solid 8.0 p.p. growth in the entire group over the last year.

What is Orbis’ position in Poland and the region?

Entering into a new era in 2015, Orbis went through a major transformation, implementing a new organizational structure enhancing synergies throughout the entire group. The transaction has oriented us towards further growth in new markets, and at the same time the group continuously kept in its focus the optimization of the balance sheet and of the capital employed, its real commitment to CSR priorities as well as its operational excellence and expertise. In 2015, we observed a positive trend in the macroeconomic environment in the entire region. Eastern European countries were among Europe’s fastest-growing economies. There is no doubt that this favorable economic trend fueled the growth of the hotel market. All of these factors contributed to the growth and great performance of Orbis, confirming the success of the group’s strategy.

Are there any plans to further expand the Orbis network in Poland and across the region?

I am convinced that sustainable growth and permanent innovation are the key drivers to be the best performing and valued hospitality group in the region.

The year 2015 was really a good year, but we are looking at the future and foreseeing the changes and challenges we face in our industry. The main challenge in the hospitality industry is to switch ourselves from a service-oriented approach to a pure people-centric approach, having in mind our customers as well as the staff. We are redefining the way to sell or communicate our services by taking into consideration all the phases of the whole guest journey: before, during and long after the client’s stay. AccorHotels and Orbis are anticipating all these challenges and are on the move, reinforcing digital solutions and social media management. That helps us be in permanent contact with our guests and make them sure that we host them in the best possible way.

I look upon the present as a platform from which we can continue to progress and transform our business. In 2016 we will continue expanding our hotel network in the region. At present we have 108 operating hotels in nine countries, and I can see a large potential for further expansion in the future in those seven countries of Eastern Europe where the AccorHotels brands are not yet present. We will enhance the optimization of both our assets’ portfolio and financing capabilities, as well as sustain Orbis’ constant focus on critical areas to become a 100-percent customer-centric hotel organization.

The Orbis Hotel Group is the largest network of hotels in Poland and Eastern Europe as a whole. Orbis comprises more than 100 hotels and is the sole licensor of all AccorHotels brands in 16 countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. It offers almost 19,000 rooms in total. The hotels operate under the brand names Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Mercure, ibis, ibis Styles and ibis budget. These brands, recognized throughout the world, provide quality service ranging from luxury 5-star to budget 1-star hotels.

Orbis’ strategic investor is AccorHotels, a leading global hotel operator.
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