IHG CEO Keith Barr stepping down; Q1 results

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) CEO Keith Barr has informed the company’s board of his decision to step down from his role. He will be succeeded by Elie Maalouf, a member of IHG’s board and executive committee, who has led IHG’s Americas business as regional CEO for the past eight years. He will take up his new position on July 1 and will be based in the U.K.

Elie Maalouf

Barr intends to return with his family to the U.S. His final day as CEO will be June 30, after which he will remain available to support and advise the business until the end of the year.

He has been a part of IHG for more than 30 years and was appointed CEO in July 2017. Executing a clear strategy, he has transformed IHG to position the company for long-term sustainable growth, surpassing 6,000 open hotels, broadening the portfolio with the addition of seven brands in six years, significantly investing in IHG’s digital capabilities and loyalty offer, embarking on a 10-year responsible business strategy and progressing in key areas of DE&I, according to the company. During his tenure, IHG also successfully navigated a global pandemic and continued to grow its footprint and reputation with key stakeholders around the world.

Maalouf joined IHG as Americas CEO in February 2015. Under his leadership, the region’s estate has grown from approximately 3,700 hotels to more than 4,350. He led the delivery of record profits, oversaw the launch of new brands and formats, and strengthened how the business drives value for our hotel owners, according to the company. He has spent several decades in the global hospitality sector and has a breadth of experience spanning hotel development, branding, finance, real estate and operations management, as well as food and beverage expertise, with a strong track record of delivering exceptional results. He has lived and worked internationally including in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the U.S., and speaks four languages.

To support Maalouf and CFO Michael Glover and to help ensure a smooth transition, Barr will remain available to the business over the rest of the year. A process is underway to appoint a successor to Maalouf as Americas CEO.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Keith, and on behalf of the board and our colleagues I want to thank him for his successful leadership of IHG and congratulate him on his remarkable contribution,” said Deanna Oppenheimer, chair, IHG. “Starting in our hotels in the U.S. before moving into corporate roles that have seen him work across international markets, Keith has used all his experience to lead a true transformation of IHG in his six years as CEO. He has rallied a business around a clear strategy with hotel owners and guests at its heart, strengthened IHG’s enterprise platform and placed the business on a path to long-term sustainable growth and to continue an excellent track record of shareholder value creation. He has achieved this with great warmth and personality—not least during the depths of the pandemic—and we wish him the very best for the future.”

She continued, “Succession planning has been a hallmark of the business for many years, and Elie’s appointment is the result of a rigorous process and a commitment to invest in the development of our leaders, as was the case when Keith became CEO in 2017. Elie has been an instrumental part of our business in his eight years running our largest operating region and as a member of the board since 2018. His significant industry experience and deep understanding of our business make him extremely well-placed to take on the role of CEO and ensure we continue to progress and execute our successful strategy. The board and I look forward to working with him in his new position.”

Barr added, “I feel incredibly privileged to have spent three decades as part of IHG, working alongside the many talented colleagues that make it such a special company, and in partnership with our hotel owners who share our passion for hospitality. I have been lucky enough to experience this in multiple countries over the years and to have spent the last six as CEO has been an honor. After a long time living abroad, now is the right time for me and my family to return to the U.S. I am proud of the strong position that IHG is in today, thanks to the investments we have made to transform every aspect of our business; deliver for our guests and owners; and grow and operate our brands in the right way around the world. I’m excited for what lies ahead for IHG and having worked so closely together, to see Elie lead the business and build on all he has achieved in the Americas.”

“I am extremely proud to be appointed CEO of one of the world’s leading hotel companies and excited to work with our talented teams and owners around the world on what will be an important new chapter for IHG,” said Maalouf. “Working closely with Keith and as an executive committee, we’ve made a number of critical strategic investments in recent years that position us with exciting opportunities to realize IHG’s full industry-leading potential, by driving the performance and growth of our fantastic brands and delivering strong returns for all our stakeholders.”

Q1 2023 results

In addition to revealing Barr’s departure, the company also released its Q1 2023 results:

  • Q1 group RevPAR +33% vs 2022, with Americas +18%, EMEAA +64% and Greater China +75%
  • Q1 group RevPAR +6.8% vs 2019, with Americas +11.1%, EMEAA +9.7% and Greater China (9.1)%
  • ADR +11% vs 2022, +10% vs 2019; occupancy +10% vs 2022, -2% vs 2019
  • Gross system size growth +5.8% YOY, +0.9% YTD; opened 8,400 rooms (45 hotels) in Q1, ahead of 2022
  • Net system size growth +4.2% YOY on an adjusted basis, +0.4% YTD
  • Global system of 915,000 rooms (6,179 hotels); 66% across midscale segments, 34% across upscale and luxury
  • Signed 16,500 rooms (108 hotels) in Q1, in-line with 2022; global pipeline of 287,000 rooms (1,906 hotels), +3.3% YOY

“We’ve seen a good start to the year, with continued strong trading in both the Americas and EMEAA, and an excellent rebound in demand in Greater China since the lifting of travel restrictions,” said Barr. “Leisure demand has remained buoyant, and there has been further return of business and group travel as expected.

“The guest appeal of our brands has continued to support pricing, with rate up 10% versus 2019 and occupancy now almost back to pre-COVID levels. For owners, the strength of our enterprise platform and investments we’ve made to enhance our portfolio and widen our offer continues to attract demand and drive growth. We signed over 16,000 rooms across 108 hotels into our development pipeline in the quarter, in line with our performance in 2022. A third of all signings were across our six luxury and lifestyle brands, as we accelerate our growth in the segment.

“We opened 8,000 rooms across 45 hotels in the quarter, and while financing challenges for the wider commercial real estate industry are holding back new hotel development and opening activity fully returning to normal, we anticipate improving levels as the year progresses. Meanwhile, conversions increased to be over a third of both openings and signings in the period.

“Whilst comparatives to 2022 get tougher from the second quarter onwards and there are ongoing economic uncertainties, IHG has continued to prove the resiliency of its business model and we remain confident about the strong tailwinds for attractive long-term, sustainable growth and value creation. We look forward to making additional progress over the course of 2023 in further evolving our brand portfolio, increasing RevPAR and expanding our system size.”