PARIS Accor (ACCP.PA) expects satisfactory business in most key markets during the summer after the Paris Airshow and other trade fairs boosted hotel demand in France, Germany and the UK in the second quarter.
The world's fourth-largest hotelier said there were also signs of improvement at its economy hotel business in austerity-hit Italy and Portugal in the quarter but that the situation in Spain remained very difficult.
"First-half 2013 trends are expected to continue during the summer season, with satisfactory business levels in most of the group's key markets," finance chief Sophie Stabile said on Tuesday, adding that September bookings remained unclear.
Accor, whose brands range from the luxury Sofitel chain to budget Ibis, said sales in the quarter to June 30 rose 3.3 percent like-for-like to 1.47 billion euros ($1.93 billion), against the 1.49 billion average in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.
The improvement from a 0.1 percent decline in the first quarter was driven by trade fairs that also included Germany's Bauma construction fair, favorable year-ago comparisons, and a 13.9 percent jump in management and franchise fees.
Europe's largest hotel group makes more than 70 percent of its sales in the region and is more exposed to its ailing economy than larger rivals InterContinental (IHG.L), Marriott MAR.N and Starwood (HOT.N).
To cope with the situation in Europe, Accor has unveiled plans to cut costs and is accelerating its expansion in fast-growing emerging markets.
Revenue in the upscale and midscale hotel segments grew 3.7 percent like-for-like in the second quarter, bolstered by solid demand in emerging markets with double-digit growth in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
Revenue from economy hotels grew 2.4 pct like-for-like.
The first half also marked further expansion with the opening of 9,940 rooms, 80 percent of which are under management franchise and management contracts, and 49 percent in emerging markets, Accor said.
Accor, which ousted chairman and chief executive Denis Hennequin in April and replaced him with a transition team, is still searching for a new CEO. Stabile declined to comment on the process.
Accor is due to publish first-half earnings on August 28.
Shares in Accor have gained around 3 percent since the start of 2013. Accor trades at 18.6 times 12-month forward earnings against 18.7 for InterContinental and 18.5 for Marriott.
(Editing by James Regan)