(Adds CFO comments, details)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, April 16 (Reuters) - Accor, Europe’s largest hotel group, said on Thursday sales growth accelerated in the first-quarter, driven by robust demand for hotel rooms across most regions.
The world’s fourth-largest hotel group however remained cautious on Brazil, where the economy was slowing, and on France where the deadly attacks by Islamist militants in Paris in January weighed on demand for budget hotels.
Accor, which competes with InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood is undergoing a reorganisation begun by Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin.
But it has faced a string of problems ranging from a weak economic climate to rising value-added taxes in its home market which generates 30 percent of group revenue.
Quarterly revenue reached 1.225 billion euros ($1.31 billion), a like-for-like rise of 5.6 percent that marked an acceleration from 5.1 percent growth achieved in the fourth quarter 2014.
Chief Financial Officer Sophe Stabile told a conference that the quarter saw very positive trends in Germany and in Britain as well as in midscale and upscale hotels in France while Spain and Portugal were recovering fast as did Australia.
Latin America did well except for Brazil, which makes 7 percent of group revenue, and where Accor’s performance remained uncertain in all hotel segments.
In France, the closely watched measure of RevPar (revenue per available room) rose 3.7 percent in the quarter against 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter 2014.
French activity was driven by markets other than Paris due to a several trade fairs. In Paris, upscale and luxury hotels benefited from a decline in the euro.
But budget hotels were hurt by security measures taken by the French government after the January attacks, which hit school and sports trips and led to a 0.8 percent decline in the revenue of Accor’s F1 budget hotels.
Stabile said trends for the second quarter were “of the same caliber” as those of the first quarter, though business in France would be held back by several public holidays in May, and Germany would have also have fewer trade fairs than in the first quarter.
Shares in Accor have gained about 32 percent this year, outperforming a 23 percent rise in the CAC-40 index of French blue-chip companies.
Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Andrew Callus