The former owners of the Achat hotel chain did not think much of public relations and relied on silent expansion. A relatively large company, currently with 35 hotels, was created with relatively little attention from industry experts. The new boss, Philipp von Bodman, wants to work on the company’s public image to grow faster with the help of new investors.
The Achat Premium City-Wiesbaden is quite typical for Achat: From the outside, only a narrow, modest façade can be seen in the pedestrian zone. Behind it, however, lies a large building complex with 149 rooms. The situation is similar for the entire hotel chain: 35 hotels boasting more than 4,100 rooms and projected revenue of 75 million Euros. Although the chain is relatively large, it is barely noticed on the market.
The fact that Achat doesn’t yet means anything to hotel experts is typical for the company. Von Bodman, who changed to management in the fall of last year, knows this. Since the beginning of the year, he has managed the company alone and holds a 10% stake. Von Bodman led Primecity Investment, a subsidiary of the real estate company Aroundtown, for four years and was Head of Hotel Investment at Aroundtown. He was responsible for a portfolio of over 100 hotel properties, mainly located in Germany, with a volume of more than 3 billion Euros. Correspondingly, he has dealt with most of the German hotel companies. As von Bodman admits, he knew very little about Achat when its owner, Hannover Finanz, came knocking, looking for an enterprising Managing Director. The fact that Achat sails under the industry’s radar is presumably because the company, which was established in 1991, has been growing steadily, yet often only one house per year. Besides that, there were no spectacular deals involved, instead often hotels in smaller cities
Von Bodman also points out that, until Hannover Finanz became involved, little emphasis was placed on active public relations in the past. “I asked myself, why? Because there is nothing to hide, but many things that we are proud to go public with: We’re successful, creditworthy, with a strong team, a broad market presence with 35 hotels and over 4,100 rooms, and great hotels in our portfolio,” von Bodman emphasizes.
The company’s image within the hotel and the hotel real estate industry is one of the points that von Bodman would like to change. Also, to achieve the parent company’s ambitious expansion target: acquiring 100 hotels after the takeover. Von Bodman himself does not want to commit himself to such figures. “We are looking to grow very strongly; however, we want Achat to be on the investors’ radar. The Achat Plaza Frankfurt/Offenbach is one of the portfolio highlights. It is located in a historic slaughterhouse converted into a hotel in 2002 and includes work and living facilities for young entrepreneurs. Source: Real Estate Newspaper, Publisher: Peter Maurer Right Deals Grow. Therefore, growth momentum also will depend on market conditions.”
Since von Bodman has been out in the industry explaining what Achat is all about, he has received very positive feedback. “We’re aware that we’re a desirable operating partner for a wide variety of owners”. As a result, several contracts for properties under the premium budget brand Loginn by Achat are “in various stages of negotiation,” he adds. Achat has had very positive experiences with the brand’s first store in Leipzig, which opened at the end of 2017. Three more Loginn Hotels in Hanover, Braunschweig, and Offenbach have been signed.
New buildings for the Loginn brand aim to impress with a PlayCorner featuring Playstations and Xbox in the lobby. The former growth strategy of acquiring existing properties also remains relevant. With its three brands, Achat Comfort, Achat Premium, and Achat Plaza, the company can take on a wide range of hotels, from bed-and-breakfasts to upscale properties, von Bodman says. In terms of locations, Achat remains faithful to primarily focusing on outstanding sites in B- and C-cities with populations of 50,000 or more and on the outskirts of metropolitan areas. Achat recently acquired five hotels in Bremen, Regensburg, Egelsbach near Frankfurt, and Aschheim and Freising near Munich, all from one operator. Von Bodman wouldn’t say no to good risk-free deals in A-cities either. “But they don’t currently exist.”
At Achat, von Bodman will not continue carrying forward two elements of success from his former position. Because Primecity was specialized in buying and refurbishing problem hotels. However, Achat will continue to not seek real estate ownership. “Wir love leases.”, von Bodman emphasizes. And taking over troubled hotels won’t be a focus either, yet it can happen from time to time. “If a hotel isn’t performing well - and we believe we know why - we’re happy to take it over. But we don’t need to focus on the most difficult cases; we have enough other opportunities.” Von Bodman would prefer to expand these opportunities towards large institutional investors. If Achat could successfully get on their radar, it could give the company an additional boost. For this to work, Achat has to make up for some missed opportunities in public relations over the past 30 years.
The Author: Peter Maurer is a freelance journalist in Wiesbaden, Germany
From Construction Subsidiary to Hotel Group
1991 Achat is founded as a subsidiary of the construction group Süba Bau AG in Hockenheim (Achat is based in Mannheim since 2013).
1998 Achat has grown to 13 hotels nationwide, all built by Süba Bau.
2002 Süba Bau is in economic difficulties and is forced to file bankruptcy. Achat survives the turbulence relatively unscathed and becomes independent. The new owner is a group of investors around Süba’s founding family Schlampp. From now on, Achat will concentrate on taking over existing hotels.
End of 2016, Financial investor Hannover Finanz takes over Achat. At this time, the company has 30 hotels
The Achat Plaza Frankfurt/Offenbach is one of the portfolio's highlights.
It is located in a historic slaughterhouse converted into a hotel in 2002 and includes work and living facilities for young entrepreneurs.
Source: Real Estate Newspaper, Publisher: Peter Maurer