By Adedapo Adesanya
The management of Capital Hotels Plc, owners of Sheraton Abuja Hotel, has assured shareholders of the hospitality company that efforts would be made to create better value for them by ensuring a better market presence for the business despite the huge challenging operational environment.
Chairman of the interim board, Mr Anthony Idigbe, gave this assurance on Monday at the company’s ‘Facts Behind the Figure’ held at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos. The team was also honoured yesterday by the NSE with the closing gong ceremony.
Addressing investment analysts at the event on Monday, including Business Post, Mr Idigbe said out of the 575 guest rooms the firm’s flagship hotel, Sheraton Abuja Hotel, has, 266 are presently undergoing renovation, but 97 rooms should be completed in the first quarter of 2020. He said these will include state-of-the-art club rooms and suites.
He express optimism that when these 97 rooms are released for customers’ use early next year, they should improve the “market share [of the company], enhance revenue [and] boost [its] presence.”
According to Mr Idigbe, “As you all know, Capital Hotels has been undergoing some transformation, we are happy we have a cohesive board for corporate governance and we have adopted many policies so as to be able to focus the components on the business.
“The result is that in the last two years, we have been able to declare profits and we hope to continue in that fashion. We have ambition to be the largest provider of leisure and business spaces in Nigeria.
“We are working very hard on refurbishing our rooms, banqueting and conferencing facilities. Also, we have returned our marketing plans and strategy and we hope to continue sustaining the current performance and even exceeding it.”
An Executive Director of Capital Hotels, Mr Robert Itawa, during his presentation, explained that the renovation was part of efforts to turnaround fortunes of the company, following decisions by the new management to commence an upgrade of some facilities in the hotel.
He assured investors that the company will improve its service delivery so as to result into more return of investment for shareholders of the hospitality firm, which was readmitted on the stock exchange in 2008.
However, Mr Itawa pointed out some factors having negative impact of the company’s numbers, which include a high operating cost. He explained that the organisation had to book the cost of implication of legacy staff schemes following an agreement with the unions. He added that the cost is expected to spread over a three-year period.
“For the past three years, this legacy cost alone is about N300 million. We have paid N110 million this year and from 2010 till date, cost associated with legacy system alone is N2.8 billion.
”That is why we have entered into negotiations with the union because we felt if we do not do something, the hotel will die and people will not get their money.
“In the next one year, we would have completed the payment of whatever that is outstanding. We have been paying massively every year since that period without fail and that is why we are experiencing industrial harmony,” Mr Itawa informed analysts present at the meeting.
Mentioning other challenges facing Capital Hotels, Mr Itawa said they include kidnapping, insurgency, institutional failure, poor transport system, power outage, public water shortage, integrity shortage amongst others.
Giving an outlook for the company in the future, he said that the firm may consider enhancing its topline by 60 percent mainly from the newly renovated 97 rooms.
While fielding questions from participants yesterday on the tenure of the present interim team, Chairman of the board, Mr Anthony Idigbe, assured that the board would ensure to complete its mandate within the time frame and not stay longer than necessary.
In his words, “I want to assure you that some of us will like to exit as quickly as possible and as soon as necessary. We continue to see it as a national service to perform this role.
“We are very proud of the work we have done so far, but be assured that we will not stay a minute longer than necessary.”
“We are happy that by the first quarter of next year, substantial progress would have been made in the decision process. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is going to ensure that rights of fair hearing are not breached. The process is very important. We are trying to get a solution that would be sustainable,” Mr Idigbe added.
SEC had on May 4, 2017, dissolved the former board of directors and appointed an interim board led by Mr Anthony Idigbe. The action was taken to protect investors of the company as well as integrity of the capital market and to restore the lost fortunes of the company in the shortest time possible.
The new interim board was mandated to oversee the conduct of a forensic investigation into the affairs of the company, considering the allegations of unauthorised sale of shares and diversion of proceeds from the sale of shares, amongst others.
FG Permits Nigeria Air to Lease Aircraft to Start Operations
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has given approval to Nigeria Air to lease aircraft to start operations.
The Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, made this announcement while briefing State House correspondents after the council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Minister, who didn’t disclose when the national carrier would start its operations, said the company would begin with three aircraft, adding that Nigeria Air is open to investment from any of the country’s airline companies.
This is coming after it got the Air Transport License (ATL) which certifies the kinds of operations a carrier will embark on scheduled, non-scheduled, cargo air services within and outside Nigeria, from the Nigerian Civil Airport Authority (NCAA), for a period of five (5)years from June 3rd, 2022 to June 2nd, 2027.
The new national airline is expected to provide scheduled and non-scheduled services after four years since the federal government on July 18, 2018, announced the name of the national carrier and unveiled the logo and provided the blueprint for operations in the United Kingdom.
However, much dispute has delayed the full launching of the carrier but with the recent developments, Nigerians will be awaiting the operation of the airline service.
In March, the federal government opened a bid for private investors to join the national air carrier to promote economic growth and develop public-private partnerships.
The private sector partners were expected to comprise – Nigerian Financial and Institutional Investors (minimum of 46 per cent shares) so that the total Nigerien shareholding will hold a minimum of 51 per cent of the shares of Nigeria Air (including the 5 per cent non-interactive FGN share), as required by international laws for a national carrier.
Interswitch Sponsors Hotel Expo Nigeria 2022
Stakeholders in the Nigerian hospitality and tourism industry convened at the Hotel Expo Nigeria 2022, with Africa’s leading integrated payments and digital commerce company, Interswitch, as one of its sponsors, to discuss the way forward for the sector that faced unprecedented challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, which was held recently at the Landmark Centre, drew players from the various corners of the sector, including manufacturers, hoteliers, tourism and booking agents, and top executives, among others, to give insights into the hospitality business.
With the disruption caused by the pandemic in hindsight, the two-day event focused on conversations around developing innovative solutions that will boost the recovery and growth of business operations. The expo also served as a common ground where ideas were shared and a community formed.
As a leader in Nigeria’s technology and innovation ecosystem, Interswitch is poised to provide bespoke robust business solutions to players in the hospitality industry to support their business growth aspirations.
Representatives of Interswitch who spoke at the event as members of the panellists were the Group Head, Engineering, Interswitch, Abdul-Hafiz Ibrahim and Business Manager, Interswitch, Olatunji Lasisi, delivering insights into the role technology can play in boosting the hospitality business. Also on the panel at the event was the Head of DSTV Business, Abayomi Famakinwa.
During the panel session, Ibrahim noted that as the hospitality business emerges from the economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to leverage efficient technological solutions that aligned with the changing market trends. He also added that it was important for businesses to take note of the dynamic consumer needs, as this will help them stay ahead of the competition.
He said, “The hospitality sector has undergone unprecedented challenges in recent times, and there is a need to have conversations around business solutions that will revitalize the sector and improve efficiency. The Hotel Expo Nigeria 2022 is a relevant platform in this regard as it brings together critical stakeholders to drive the conversation.
“As a cross-sector player, Interswitch’s cutting-edge products such as the Quickteller Business Smart PoS and the Payment Gateway help organisations drive efficiency and boost service delivery.”
Lasisi, on his part, identified the Quickteller Business Smart PoS and Payment Gateway as innovations from Interswitch that have helped businesses make quick recoveries from the harsh economic realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lasisi said that the Quickteller Business Smart PoS, by design, was developed to aid businesses in accepting and processing payments from all major local and international cards, availing customers with multiple payment options such as transfers that provide immediate payment confirmation right on the PoS terminals to USSD, QR and Verve Paycode, pre-authorization, completion and refund features, providing real-time business performance reporting, among other features. At the same time, the Payment Gateway service will enable businesses to Accept payments easily on their websites from international and local customers alongside other multiple payment options. Integration of the Payment Gateway is 100 per cent free and easy.
Inflation, FX Scarcity Force Aero Contractors to Suspend Operations
By Dipo Olowookere
One of the leading airline operators in Nigeria, Aero Contractors, has announced the indefinite suspension of its operations, citing the rising cost of maintenance, inflation and foreign exchange (FX) scarcity, amongst others as the reason for its action.
In a statement issued on Monday, the company, which is the oldest airline in the country, said the suspension of its flight operations will become effective Wednesday, July 20, 2022.
The firm said in the past months, it has been struggling to remain in business despite “the high cost of maintenance, skyrocketing fuel prices, inflation, and forex scarcity” and that after a careful analysis of the situation, it felt it was in the interest of its customers and others to halt its operations pending when it would be fully ready to “offer a seamless and efficient service to our esteemed customers.”
Aero Contractors said during this period of the suspension, it would make efforts to put its aeroplanes in good shape with a view to bringing them “back to service in the next few weeks so we can continue to offer our passengers the safe, efficient, and reliable services that Aero Contractors is known for, which is the hallmark of Aero Contractors Company of Nig. Ltd.”
However, it emphasised that this suspension “does not in any way affect the maintenance activities of the Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) otherwise known as AeroMRO, the Approved Training Organisation (ATO) also known as Aero Training School, the Helicopter and Charter Services operations.”
“As members of Spring Alliance (a commercial alliance with member airlines providing mutual support in the area of operations), we are liaising with our partner airlines to minimise the impact on our esteemed customers.
“Our customer service team will be working to help affected esteemed customers reach their destinations,” the company assured and apologised “for any inconvenience caused to our esteemed customers.”
“In the meantime, we are working assiduously to return to service as quickly as possible, and do assure our esteemed customers and stakeholders of our determination, that our short absence will not create any major void in the market, as we are coordinating with our business partners to ensure minimum discomfort to ticket holders,” the statement said.
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