Unique Mercantile makes big HoJo bet in India

Unique Mercantile, the Indian rights holder of Wyndham Hotel Group’s Howard Johnson brand, reportedly plans to invest Rs 1,715 crore to open 34 properties across the country by 2020.

The Times of India reported that Unique Mercantile is looking to tap pilgrimage destinations such as Tirupati and Shirdi, besides metros like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and smaller cities like Bhubaneshwar and Lucknow for the brand. The company has opened the first Howard Johnson hotel, a 117-room property, at Bengaluru last week.

Out of the 34 hotels planned Unique Mercantile expects five hotels will be wholly-owned, 10 will be joint ventures and 15 under management contracts (with third parties) and four would be on lease models.

“The plan is to launch one Howard Johnson every six months with a lineup of properties in Tirupati, Vijayawada, Shirdi, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bhubaneshwar and Lucknow, in the immediate pipeline,” said Unique Mercantile India Executive Director Rahul Rai.

Rai said the company would look to invest in both incomplete and existing hotels, which are under performing or in need of cash infusion.