Cigarettes-to-hotels conglomerate ITC is set to foray into the boutique hotels space with the launch of a new brand called Storii. The company disclosed in its annual report that Storii will look to offer "curated travel experiences to the new age traveler".
The launch of Storii is part of ITC's asset-right strategy where the company is looking at expansion through managed properties rather than owning them. The company said that going forward, a large part of incremental room additions will come through management contracts.
The Storii will be a collection of intimate-sized boutique lifestyle properties in the upscale segment that look to offer experiential holidays and stays. According to sources, this new brand will work with independent hotel owners to take on and manage their properties as per the standards of ITC Hotels. Each property is expected to be modeled around a ‘distinct experience’.
"The business is witnessing growing interest amongst property owners to align with its iconic brands resulting in healthy generation of leads and pipeline for management contracts," the company's annual statement read.
However, there was no mention of the timeline, by when the new brand would be launched.
In addition to luxury ITC hotels, the company runs the Welcomhotel brand in the upper-upscale segment with 19 hotels. In the mid-market to upscale segment, ITC has the Fortune brand comprising 39 properties and nearly 3,000 rooms across 35 cities.
Its plan to launch a boutique brand comes at a time when the hospitality industry has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions.
With the second COVID wave triggering fresh restrictions, the near-term outlook for the hospitality industry will depend on the return of confidence in business and leisure travel, ITC said. It added that new signings were adversely impacted this year due to the pandemic.
"Progress of vaccination, rate of COVID infections and easing of restrictions, will be the key monitorables in the near term," the company highlighted.
Revenues from the hotels segment declined 66 percent in FY21 to Rs 627.51 crore, while EBITDA turned negative at Rs 268.60 crore compared to Rs 419.88 crore in the previous year.
"A combination of interventions spanning augmentation of revenue streams, customised packages and an aggressive cost reduction programme helped partially mitigate the impact of low occupancies and room rates," the Kolkata-headquartered company said.
(Edited by : Jerome Anthony)
First Published: IST