Choice adds 163 hotels in European expansion Deal gives chain 3,000 franchises

June 12, 1993|By New York Times News Service Staff Writer Ellen James Martin contributed to this article.

Choice Hotels International has added 163 European hotels to its rapidly expanding hospitality empire, bringing to more than 3,000 the number of Choice franchises in 30 countries.

With its parent company, Silver Spring-based Manor Care Inc., Choice purchased the properties for $10 million from Inovest, one of France's largest operators of budget properties.

The acquisition gives Choice 144 more properties in France, plus 19 additional hotels in six other European countries, including its first hotels in Spain and Portugal. The agreement comes less than two months after Choice formed a joint venture with the Journey's End Corp., Canada's biggest hotel management company, which owns 120 inns.

"It was a great opportunity because France is a target for us, and because all the properties were built in the last six years," said Gerald Petitt, president and chief operating officer of Choice. "And it brings our European properties to about 225, although we plan to more than double that within a few years."

Manor Care is a major health care company in the United States. Its stock, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, lost 12.5 cents a share, to close at $20.375, yesterday.

Its Manor Care Hotels division owns and operates 20 hotels in the United States. Those hotels, and all those in the Choice portfolio, operate under one of seven banners: Clarion, Comfort, Econo Lodge, Friendship, Quality, Rodeway or Sleep Inns.

Manor Care revenues for the fiscal year that ended May 31 are expected to be slightly more than $1 billion, with Choice contributing about $159 million.

Mr. Petitt said the Inovest hotels, most of them along the major highways in France, had been in bankruptcy courts, casualties of the country's economic downturn.

Choice will rename the 141 two-star Primevere properties Comfort Inn Primevere. Comfort is one of Choice's limited-service chains. The three existing three-star properties in France, named Saphir, will be renamed as Quality Inn Primevere and Comfort Inn Primevere.

As a result of the purchase, Choice Hotels Europe and Quality Hotels Europe will form a new Paris-based company, Manor Care Hotels (France) SA, to oversee Primevere's hotel operations in -- France.

CHOICE HOTELS

Parent: Manor Care Inc.

Headquarters: Silver Spring

Annual revenues: $159 million

Brand names: Clarion, Quality Inn, Comfort, Sleep, Econo Lodge, Rodeway and Friendship Inns.

Properties worldwide: 3,047*

Rooms worldwide: 289,000*

Corporate employees: 1,950

Company-owned hotels: 20

*includes acquisition.

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