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Six Continents steers a steady course

Six Continents<.>` annual general meeting in London revealed first quarter profits…

Six Continents ` annual general meeting in London revealed first quarter profits  in-line with expectations and encouraging signs of recovery for internal travel within the USA.

Six Continents Hotels owns, manages or franchises leading hotel brands including Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn, Express by Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites in six continents around the world.

Overall operating profits have improved since October when Six Continents reported a decline of £20million in comparison to the year before and are currently running at an average monthly decline of £15million. In addition, the benefits of the Posthouse Hotels acquisition in the UK and the Regent Inter-Continental in Hong Kong in 2001 are beginning to contribute to the business. Six Continents also attributed its performance to controlling costs and investing to stimulate demand such as successful marketing activity, increases in the sales force, and employee incentive schemes.

Six Continents highlighted encouraging signs of recovery in the internal US travel market – particularly for midscale travel. The company`s Holiday Inn and Express by Holiday Inn brands performed very well in difficult market conditions; maintaining or increasing their RevPAR premium over their respective competitors. Express by Holiday Inn achieved RevPAR gains in Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific.

There is still no significant recovery in transatlantic travel according to Six Continents, particularly outbound from the States. This has affecting upscale hotels in key cities and Inter-Continental and Crowne Plaza hotels have therefore been hardest hit in the US and in key European city centre locations.

However, Six Continents is continuing to invest for the future. The renovation of ten major Inter-Continental Hotels continues as planned.

The Le Grand Inter-Continental in Paris closed in December 2001 for refurbishment and re-opens in Spring 2003 as one of Six Continents Hotels flagship properties in Europe. The Castellana Inter-Continental Hotel in Madrid will re-open later this year and the Inter-Continental South Tower in Chicago is also going through a major refurbishment.

Six Continents` retail business achieved strong profit growth and is relatively resilient to any downturn in consumer spending.