FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

Bernold Schroeder, Pan Pacific Hotels.

An excerpt from our monthly People-in-Travel report.

 

New CEO of Singapore-based Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG) is Bernold Schroeder, 45. Some observations (see below for profile of PPHG):

 

-Three years ago his predecessor (Patrick Imbardelli, 53) tried a PPHG comeback in Australia – announcing two PRs in Sydney and a PP in Perth. After that, growth stalled.

 

-Imbardelli had strong connections with the PR brand, developing it under Southern Pacific Hotels, and then trying to expand into Asia when SPH was bought by what is now InterContinental.

 

-Imbardelli also wanted to expand PPs in North America and in 2010 appointed a head of development there. Targets were the usual suspects – Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco. This mission failed. In addition to its two long-standing hotels in Canada, PPHG has added only a PP in Seattle.

 

-Schroeder was most recently CEO of Shanghai-based Jinjiang Hotels (JJH). His stay there was short, joining in 2011. When he started JJH had 111 hotels, and he told me that he wanted to open 20 hotels in 2012 as well as go international – including Hong Kong, Macau, and Europe. Today, JJH has 120 hotels, and none outside mainland China, so Schroeder missed his target by a big margin.

In fact, a foreigner (indeed, anyone from outside Shanghai), would be unlikely to have full CEO control at JJH. There are indications that Schroeder, a German national, did not realise this.

Before JJH he was 14 years with Banyan Tree, eventually becoming CEO. However, BT’s de facto head was and remains Ho Kwon Ping, making Schroeder the operational head. This pattern will probably be similar at PPHG, where UOL more than PPHG will make expansion decisions.

 

-PPHG appears to have dumped its outside-Asia aspirations. The company’s announcement of Schroeder’s appointment mentioned “…continued extension of our presence in major gateway cities across Asia Pacific”.

In fact, Imbardelli has left Schroeder a reasonable regional portfolio – spoiled only by the group’s brand problem. In China there are PPs in Ningbo, Suzhou, Xiamen, with Tianjin due this year. In Yangon, where it already has a PR, a PP is due 2016. PRs are due to join the 40-year-long PP-presence in Jakarta and more recently in Bali – with Bogor due 2015 and Bali 2017.

(See below for other notables in its portfolio.)

 

-Imbardelli, an Australian national, has a long career in Asia – moving from Australia with SPH for the challenging job of running its floating hotel in Ho Chi Minh City in the late-1970s. At the time, Vietnam’s culture was more strongly communist than it is today.

Eventually Imbardelli headed InterContinental, which bought SPH, in Asia Pacific. But he left in 2006 in negative circumstances – following an internal review of his academic qualifications. The implication, but not stated by IC (therefore not proven), was that some qualifications Imbardelli presented were incorrect.

 

 

About PPHG:

-PPHG, despite that name, is actually two brands, Pan Pacific (PP) and Parkroyal (PR). It has 30 hotels and resorts.

 

-Parent company is Singapore’s big and powerful UOL group. In 2013 PPHG formally became a UOL subsidiary. PP was originally the international hotel arm of Japan’s Tokyu Hotels group, and also the JV partner of the original Hong Kong-based Regent Hotels.

 

-UOL (which was United Overseas Land until 2006), is led by Wee Cho Yaw, who also heads United Overseas Bank and United Industrial Corporation Limited. He is Singapore’s 4th-richest person, says Take Stock Singapore.

 

-UOL is a property company, so real-estate equity is PPHG’s preferred manner of growth. PPHG acts more as a real estate company managing some hotels than a hotel management company owning many of its hotels.

 

-PPHG wants PP to be the higher brand whereas the PR name is clearly higher in the public image. Imbardelli was like management at other groups trying to go against the market – such as Accor, which is still trying to make Sofitel higher than Pullman. It is not clear yet what Schroeder will do – probably no change, unless Wee wants it.

 

-In addition to hotels listed in the report above, of note is its strong presence in Singapore – 2 PPs, 3 PRs.

 

 

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

 

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