Mannheim, October, 20, 2019. The Achat [translated: Agate] is a gemstone, which is said to even have a healing effect - the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used these stones as good luck charms. Hence, it's a perfect name for a hotel group that has proven itself on the market for almost 30 years. Perhaps not very spectacular from the outside, an Achat reveals its versatility, shapes and colors upon closer inspection. That situation is very similar in the Mannheim-based hotel group of the same name.
Operating Hotels - Yes, Buying Real Estate - No
The former owners of the hotel chain didn't think much of the limelight, and expanded, almost silently, to nearly 30 establishments at the time. "Unnoticed by the market," says Managing Director Philipp von Bodman, referring to the former business policy. Since the 44-year-old took over as Managing Partner of the Achat Group at the end of 2018, he has been driving its realignment. His objective: Establishing Achat as one of the leading hotel management companies in Germany's mid-market segment.
With the acquisition of several hotels in February 2019, the number of Achat establishments increased to 35 properties, with more than 4,100 rooms and a projected revenue of 73 million Euros. Already, he said, the company is "one of the big players among non-chain operators." Achat is a modern and equally sound partner for long-term cooperations, which has earned the trust of its partners, he said. "We are successful, creditworthy, have a great experienced team and a broad market presence. There's a lot to work with and our potential is great, we can proudly approach the public."
To make Achat better known within the hotel and real estate industry, the new boss is working on the company's image. "Hannover Finanz Group, as our main shareholder, is a strong partner for continued expansion," says Philipp von Bodman, who himself holds a 15% stake in the operating company. The trained hotel manager (Colombi, Freiburg) with an MBA has over 20 years of experience in the hotel industry. Most recently, he was CEO of Primecity Investment and Head of Hotels at Aroundtown SA in Berlin. He was in charge of around 100 hotels worth more than 3 billion Euros.
"Operating yes, buying no," Bodman emphasizes. Achat does not intend to acquire real estate. "Wir love leases." Taking over challenging hotels "can happen," but isn't a focus, he said. "We could turn hotels." But it was not necessary to focus on the most difficult cases. "We have enough other options." Bodman does not want to commit to any specific targets such as "x hotels in 10 years". He said the company wants to "strongly grow through the right deals," which in turn, depends on market conditions. "We have flexibility in all directions," emphasizes the Achat boss.
The expansion plans are also accompanied by an increase in personnel at the Achat headquarters in Mannheim; there is a core of around 30 specialists, ranging from sales and revenue management to marketing, administration, human resources and purchasing. "We want to grow, and be positioned properly," Bodman said. Among other things, the company is currently working on its new brand identity, which will be unveiled in 2020.
Bodman sees Achat's strategy confirmed by the market. “We’re a very attractive operating partner for a wide variety of owners," he says in an interview with the German hotel and restaurant newspaper "ahgz" (Allgemeine Hotel- und Gastronomie-Zeitung). As a result, and thanks to his far-reaching contacts, a number of contracts were signed for properties under the new, "clearly structured" premium budget brand Loginn by Achat, according to Bodman. "Since opening at the end of 2017, we've had a very positive experience with the brand's first store in Leipzig." Six more Loginn hotels, with capacities of 100 rooms or more, have already been signed for.
Loginn by Achat Taps New Market Segment
Their competitor list includes brands such as Premier Inn, Holiday Inn and Ibis Styles. Loginn focuses on new construction and conversions, while the Achat brand remains true to its growth strategy by acquiring existing 3- and 4-star properties. Achat Comfort are lodging-dominated 3-star hotels 4-star hotels with at least 80 rooms, hotel bar, restaurant and meeting rooms are suitable for the Premium and Plaza subbrands. By breaking down its operations into three categories, the company can take on a wide range of hotels, from bed-and-breakfasts to upscale full-service properties.
In terms of locations and sites, Achat continues to focus on good locations in B- and C-cities with populations greater than 50,000 and on the outskirts of metropolitan areas. “That doesn't rule out good A-list city deals”, Bodman says. The current portfolio highlight is the Achat Plaza Offenbach. An imposing historic slaughterhouse complex, that is currently undergoing a complete 155 room renovation. A sister hotel of the Loginn by Achat brand, with 158 rooms, will open in Offenbach City in 2021.
Another parameter in terms of publicity is Achat's sponsoring and business partnership with the SV Waldhof Mannheim soccer club for the 2019/20 season. Achat will be accommodating the team at its sites for away games, and be present with advertisements in the stadium. "Our diversified brand portfolio allows us to strive for the top position as the most successful German hotel group within the mid-market segment," Bodman said.