I am pleased to introduce our 2019 Annual Report. Our goal is to provide an account of our extraordinary performance and responsible management in what was a landmark year for NH Hotel Group.
First of all, we met all of the guidance set at the start of 2019, posting a record year in the main profit headings while keeping our capital structure strong and healthy.
In parallel, we embarked on a stimulating and open exchange with our shareholder of reference, Minor International, which has already materialised in multiple business opportunities for the Group, marking the start of a period of transformation in which we are building the most ambitious and unique proposition in the sector.
Towards the beginning of the year, we approved an agreement with Minor International with the goal of establishing a transparent regime for governing relations between the two entities, framed by the best corporate governance practices. That agreement addresses communication and the exchange of information between NH Hotel Group and Minor International; delimits the respective preferential geographic regions and market segments for the two companies with the aim of avoiding overlap and fostering business opportunities; and establishes a protocol for approving mutual business transactions. Underpinned by those strong foundations, the two groups have been working together on a host of initiatives designed to unlock sales and operating synergies, including the integration into our operations of Minor Hotels’ properties in Portugal, most of them belonging to the Tivoli brand, or the opportunity for NH Hotel Group to gain entry into the luxury hotel segment in Europe by operating certain hotels under the Minor’s Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas brand. That opportunity will further consolidate in 2020, thanks to the agreement entered into by NH Hotel Group with Covivio, a leading investor in European real estate, for the operation of a unique portfolio of eight high-end hotels at the end of 2019.
Throughout the year, the Board of Directors and executive team focused all of their efforts on matters related with the creation of sustainable value at the Group, specifically including the commitment to remunerating the Company’s shareholders. That promise translated into the distribution of a dividend of €0.15 per share, following approval at the Annual General Meeting in May. The Board of Directors is committed to maintaining a dividend equivalent to approximately 50% of consolidated recurring net profit going forward.
The healthy business and earnings momentum was accompanied by constant attention to corporate governance principles. The Board’s Committees – both the Audit and Control Committee and the Nominations, Remuneration and Corporate Governance Committee – continued to do their work with the utmost consistency and rigour. In February 2019, the Board of Directors took over the duties of the Delegated Commission. As recommended in Spain’s Code of Good Governance, proprietary, independent and executive directors were represented proportionately in the boardroom all year long.
Which brings me to our unwavering commitment to ethics, as evident in the approval of a new anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policy and the updating of the existing anti-corruption policy last year.
Indeed, our firm commitment to best practices resulted in our being the only hotel group of Spanish origin to be included among the 325 firms listed in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI), the international benchmark index for leadership in inclusion and equality matters. More than 6,000 companies were eligible for inclusion in this index, which tracks listed companies’ commitments to supporting gender equality through policy development, representation, and transparency.
Elsewhere, on the sustainability front, we were the first Spanish hotel chain to set an emission reduction target validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Specifically, we have publicly committed to reducing our emissions across our entire value chain by 20% by 2030. Delivery of that pledge will prevent the emission of over 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
We are also proud to inform you that in 2019 we were evaluated for the first time by SAM, the sustainability investing rating specialist which analyses the entities comprising the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, ranking fourth in our category, thus cementing our position as one of the most sustainable hotel operators. That position is all the more noteworthy considering the fact that it is the result of an evaluation of the 20 key sustainability criteria. We earned the highest score on tax strategy and environmental reporting, as well as commendable scores on aspects related with people management, including talent attraction and retention, human capital development and labour practices.
These sustainability principles have been integrated into NH Hotel Group’s responsible business strategy and its three articulating lines of initiative: NH ROOM4 People, NH ROOM4 Planet and NH ROOM4 Responsible Shared Success. Thanks to those initiatives, we are having an impact on 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals selected by United Nations. We are focused on supporting sustainable communities; responsible production and consumption; the elimination of inequalities; gender equality; and climate action, among others.
In short, we look back on a very positive year. A year in which we pursued select brand development and market positioning. A year in which we established a very close relationship with Minor Hotels, so that our integration is greater and more promising than the mere sum of our corporations and professionals. We are increasingly global and more profitable while at the same time more committed and responsible with our teams, with the universe of communities in which we do business, with equality and with the environment.
In sum, a number of very positive developments which constitute a solid basis for continuing to grow sustainably in the medium and long term. Excellent developments which I once again have the tremendous satisfaction of being able to share with all of you, who continue to trust in us.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of NH Hotel Group, many thanks.
Alfredo Fernández Agras
Chairman de NH Hotel Group
I am very proud to share NH Hotel Group’s excellent performance in 2019 with you. It has been a year in which we have exceeded the previous year’s historic results and consolidated our position of international leadership in the sector together with Minor Hotels.
The solid bases on which we have built NH Hotel Group in recent years have allowed us to grow yet another year, bring value for an increasingly unpredictable future and ensure that we have the best teams and structure to compete globally with greater guarantees of success.
We have an efficient and solvent operational and financial model which, in 2019, has permitted an increase in revenues of 5.9%, up to 1.7 billion euros and net income of 90 million euros, attributable to the Parent Company, while at the same time maintaining a stable debt level and ample liquidity.
Furthermore, alignment with Minor Hotels has been maximal, providing major strategic and business advantages throughout the year. The integration has positioned us as an even more global operator, doubling the number of brands we operate; successfully entering the luxury segment in Europe; integrating the hotels operated by Minor in Portugal into our operations; and adding new projects and destinations to our portfolio. In short, we have become stronger and more agile through a hotel platform comprising more than 500 hotels in more than 50 countries.
For next year, together with Minor Hotels we have set ourselves the goal of expanding our brands’ offer in the different areas of influence of both groups, optimising the potential of our combined customer portfolio, taking advantage of our combined negotiating capacity, and getting the most out of shared talent, among other initiatives.
In addition to the organic growth of our NH Hotels, NH Collection and nhow brands, which have contributed more than 1,586 new rooms to the Group in 2019, we have started to operate with the Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, Tivoli Hotels and Avani brands.
In April we announced an agreement to operate the Villa Padierna Palace hotel located in Marbella, in the south of Spain. The property was relaunched last summer under Minor Hotels’ luxury Anantara brand, representing the first example of integration between the two companies. This was followed by an agreement to operate the Company’s first hotel in Ireland, The Marker, which will also be reconverted to the Anantara brand in 2020.
In June we announced a series of transactions alongside Minor International for NH Hotel Group to manage the establishments of Minor Hotels in Portugal. The integration of the operations of both groups’ hotels in this market has enabled us to achieve a position of leadership in the country where we now run 17 hotels and almost 3,000 rooms. Also, this agreement has allowed us to take advantage of operational and commercial efficiencies through NH’s platform in Southern Europe and reinforce our growth strategy under management and sustainable lease formulas. In sum, we now operate 10 hotels of the Tivoli brand, one Anantara hotel located in the Algarve and one Avani hotel in Lisbon, which are added to the hotels we already operate in Portugal under the NH Collection and NH Hotels brands.
Furthermore, the end of the year saw a hugely important milestone in our joint ambition to continue introducing the Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas luxury brand into Europe, as well as significant progress in the strategy to create added value to
the NH Collection customer base with new hotels and destinations. On December 31st, we reached an agreement with Covivio, one of the leading real estate operators in Europe which will allow us to consolidate our efforts in the high-end segment, while reinforcing our position of leadership in Italy and increasing our presence in competitive destinations in France and Eastern Europe. With this agreement, we will start to operate a unique portfolio of 8 hotels, formerly part of the Boscolo portfolio, located in privileged locations in Rome, Florence, Venice, Nice, Prague and Budapest.
Alongside the hotel development, we have advanced in our efforts to improve our customers’ perception of our hotels. I would like to highlight the efforts that the Company has been making for yet another year to reposition our hotels. In 2019 we have carried out partial or total refurbishment projects in 28 assets, notably NH Collection München Bavaria in Germany, NH Collection Amsterdam Flower Market in the Netherlands or NH Málaga in Spain. The latter has doubled its capacity to become the hotel offering most beds in the city centre.
I would also like to draw attention to another one of the initiatives that we have implemented to improve the customer experience, namely the launch of Lobbies Alive, which turns the hotels into spaces that are open to the city, with creative proposals aimed at inspiring and connecting guests and local visitors. With pilot programmes already in operation in Spain and Italy, we expect to expand this concept to hotels in Germany, Belgium and Argentina in the coming months.
In 2020 we will continue to surprise our customers with differential proposals and with an increasingly wider and more iconic range of hotels. In this regard, I must mention the important role of the nhow brand which, as I write these lines, has just opened its doors in London and Amsterdam with two exceptional properties. NH Collection will also make its mark this year with an emblematic opening in the centre of Manhattan, in New York.
The continuous transformation of our business is part of the Company’s DNA. This is a quest to which the thousands of people who are part of the Group are committed to and who, with their talent and service, are contributing to NH Hotel Group’s excellence year after year. We have received many awards this year, more than fifty national and international recognitions, but the biggest prize of all is still the continued commitment of a multinational team that is a leader in the industry. I take this opportunity to congratulate all of them and to thank them for their dedication.
The results in all areas are an endorsement of the work we have done; work that is allowing us to grow, and to do so sustainably. A cross-cutting value driver, sustainability, that we share with Minor International and that marks the management of our daily activity. We strive to ensure that our business promotes the professional development of the people who work with us, gets involved in social projects in the communities where we operate, minimises our impact on the environment and serves as a channel for the transmission of and compliance with human rights throughout the entire value chain.
With all this in mind, we are ready to face 2020 with great enthusiasm and with the desire to contribute to the generation of value for all those who have placed their trust in our management. I am convinced that together we are taking the right steps to be one of the leading companies in the industry worldwide.
Thank you very much.
CEO NH Hotel Group