(Adds comments from conference call, details)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - AccorHotels, Europe’s largest hotel group, said on Wednesday it enjoyed robust demand across most of its markets in the third quarter but cautioned that market conditions were still sluggish in France and very challenging in Brazil.
The world’s fourth-largest hotel company said that in view of these elements it was narrowing its forecast for 2015 operating profit around the midpoint of the range given in July.
“Brazil continues to be the main point of vigilance amid a rapidly deteriorating situation exacerbated by the devaluation of the real,” Sebastien Valentin, Vice-President financial communications, said in a conference call.
Brazil is the group’s fourth-largest market after France, Germany, and Britain, making 7 percent of group sales.
Third quarter sales rose 3.4 percent to 1.493 billion euros ($1.7 billion) like-for-like, driven by sustained demand in most of the group’s European markets, except France where demand was flat, while sales in Brazil slumped 12.7 percent.
AccorHotels, which competes with InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood is undergoing a reorganisation under CEO Sebastien Bazin who took the top post two years ago.
AccorHotels, whose 14 hotel brands range from budget Ibis to luxury Sofitel, has faced a string of problems in France ranging from a weak economic climate to a rise in value-added taxes in its home market, which generates 30 percent of group revenue.
In France, revenue rose 1 percent like-for-like in the quarter with a continuing contrast between a challenging climate in Paris and a sound performance in the regions.
Luxury and upscale hotels in France had a good summer season but budget hotels continued to lag.
In Germany, business activity remained strong in the quarter thanks to a strong summer season and despite an unfavorable fair and exhibition calendar in September.
In Britain, business activity improved strongly in the third quarter with activity in London accelerating in September thanks to the Rugby World Cup.
Accor said it now eyed a 2015 operating profit of between 655 million to 675 million euros, compared with a previous forecast of between 650 million to 680 million euros.
$1 = 0.8739 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Leigh Thomas