After several years of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships, AccorHotels is boosting its luxury segment with yet another deal: SNCF Group, owner of the Orient Express brand, has teamed up with AccorHotels to push the luxury hotel brand's global growth. As part of this partnership, AccorHotels will acquire a 50-percent stake in the share capital of Orient Express, which until now was fully owned by SNCF.
The partnership will launch a new collection of hotels under the Orient Express banner.
Nearly four years ago, Orient-Express hotels, trains and river cruises (apart from the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train) came under the Belmond name. Last year, the company began turning to management contracts for growth, alongside a renewed vigor for balance-sheet led expansion. President & CEO Roeland Vos said in 2016 that the group had not been successful in getting management contract growth because it has not had the adequate development resources, nor has it had the necessary focus or the balance-sheet support.
Since 1997, SNCF Group has actively developed the Orient Express brand, which is based on the train that connected Europe's cities for almost a century. The actual seven Orient Express train cars will remain the physical property of the state-owned rail group. The cars will be operated by Orient Express for private journeys and event, which may be held with AccorHotels' other businesses, such as Potel & Chabot, Noctis and John Paul.
This recent partnership is in line with its current global expansion plans. AccorHotels just announced its expansion across India with two new hotels. The group’s first Raffles in the country will be developed in Udaipur while the country’s second Fairmont will be in Mumbai near the city’s airport.