The Scandinavian hotel company First Hotels has joined forces with global hotel management company Belvar to conquer Europe. Together, the companies are trading over 200 million euros in turnover, a figure set to double in just two years.
The new Group has been named Maribel and has a threefold and equal ownership between the two owners of Belvar, Mads Jacobsen and Rune Firing, and the founder of First Hotels and the Flying Elephant Group, Asmund Haare.
“The portfolios are very well suited to each other and this is one of the cases where the total value exceeds that of the individual contributing elements,” says CEO of Belvar, Mads Jacobsen.
Maribel will initially have more than 11,500 rooms in their portfolio, covering a total of 12 countries. Currently, the hotels operate under the trademarks First Hotels, Moxy Hotels and Courtyard by Marriott.
Major expansion plans
Over the past few years, Belvar has become a significant European partner for the world’s largest hotel group, Marriott. The company has signed operational agreements for over 9,000 new rooms in a total of 45 hotels set to open over the next two years. The new Group will mean that they are represented in 15 countries. Equally, revenues will rise from two to four billion Norwegian kroner with a clear ambition of continued growth.
Asmund Haare commented; “Mads and Rune have done a great job of building Belvar up to become one of Europe’s most exciting and expansive hotel companies. Together, we will have good coverage across Europe with the company rapidly developing.”
Asmund Haare becomes Chairman of the board in Maribel, whilst Mads Jacobsen, Rune Firing and Simen Haare will become board members. Mads Jacobsen has been announced as CEO in both Maribel and Belvar, whilst Rune Firing continues as Chairman of the board of Belvar.
Next-generation operating company
The European hotel industry is characterised by large and heavy international players. Belvar, which is the Group’s operating company, will enter the top league of European hotel operators after the merger, but will maintain today’s effective organisation.
“Belvar’s organisation is relatively flat and the communication and the chain of command is lean. Despite being a young company with significant geographical coverage, the organisational culture is perceived as tight-knit and solid. Belvar unquestionably represents the next-generation of hotel operator companies and sets new standards for operations, corporate culture and innovation.” says Asmund Haare.
With increased volume, there is also increased relevance and attractiveness for tomorrow’s hotel guests and for portfolio development.
“One of the great motivations behind the merger is to increase the volume significantly. Not only do we want to improve our competitiveness by benefiting from the economy of scale, but the increase in volume will also act as a door-opener to new markets, both in terms of end customers and in terms of growth in the number of hotels,” says Mads Jacobsen. He further emphasises that this will not least apply to First Hotels.
Rune Firing adds; “We know that most European hotels are chain-dependent, a position that is becoming increasingly demanding due to the enormous technological development in recent years. One of our big strengths is that we are brand-independent, which means we can find the brand best suited to the destination, product, and culture. With First Hotels on the team, we have a brand that has proven European potential, offering products and services tailored to individual hotels regardless of location.”
Fact box Maribel
Turnover: Approx. 2 billion Norwegian kroner
Portfolio: Over 100 hotels with more than 11,500 rooms
Location: Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Belgium.
Operates hotel for the brands: First Hotels, Moxy Hotels and Courtyard by Marriott
Board: Asmund Haare is chairman with Rune Firing, Mads Jacobsen (CEO) and Simen Haare as board members.
Pipeline: 45 hotels under construction with a total of nearly 10,000 rooms, including additional brand names such as Moxy Hotels, First Hotels, Residence Inn by Marriott, AC Hotels by Marriott and Marriott Hotels.
More information about Belvar:
Fact box Belvar
Turnover: Approx. 1 billion Norwegian kroner
Portfolio: 13 Moxy Hotels and 3 Courtyard by Marriott (3,551 rooms)
In the pipeline over the next two years: 45 hotels and over 9,000 rooms
Established in: Norway, Germany, England, Scotland, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands and Belgium
Fact box First Hotels:
Turnover: Approx. 1 billion Norwegian kroner
Portfolio: 92 hotels with a total of 8.331 rooms
Established in: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Spain