This week has been about the economy and budget sector, the planet and whether the Reuben Brothers go clubbing a lot and you can rank those in whatever order you find most appealing.
Results season is now underway, kicked off by Whitbread, where the message was long-term gain, but ongoing short-term…not quite pain, but certainly some discomfort. The company has been the target of every broker’s bonus pot since long before it conveniently hived off Costa Coffee and, with agitating shareholders eager to chop the group up, it seems inevitable that it will be sliced and diced.
Or not. Those same brokers have never quite found a way to do it, so the asset-heavy group looks set to remain, slowly filling the UK up with budget hotels, while having targeted one of the most competitive countries in Europe as its next big territory. It’s a big brand, but is it now becalmed?
Still steaming forwards was pretender to the budget crown OYO, which did what everyone anticipated - and in many cases hoped - and tripped over its feet running too fast. But don’t crow just yet as it has vowed to focus on its core market - hotels. Whitbread has yet to name it as a competitor - although there was passing mention of new brands in urban markets on the analysts’ call - and eyes are on to see what position it holds a year from now.
Assuming the planet will still be around a year from now to support hotel investments was the primary concern of BlackRock. In his annual letter to fellow leading CEOs, Laurence Fink said that the group would be exiting any investments it saw as having high sustainability-related risk and that he anticipated a time of ‘more patient capital’. With the mood in the sector since the start of the year being anything from ‘fervent’ to ‘rampant’, what ‘more patient capital’ means is anyone’s guess, but if it protects that which we call home, time to adopt its virtuous ways.
And as for the Reuben Brothers? They have acquired the Pacha hotel in Ibiza and are expected to make a portfolio of them.
You may be thinking it’s time to take a disco nap. Have a great weekend and tune in on Monday when it will be that most wonderful time of the year: the launch of the first new brand. And how timely it is.