Upmarket international hotel group Le Méridien Hotels today announces its intent to spend over £850 million ($1.2 billion) on upgrading its brand.

The plan in the brainchild of recently appointed chief executive Juergen Bartels, who has spent the few months since his appointment in conducting a strategic review of the 155-strong chain – one hundred of which are independently owned but under management by the group. These owners have indicated agreement to contribute £500m to the brand-building exercise, in addition to the £360m pledged to Le Méridien by Nomura International unit, the Principal Finance Group.

High on the upgrade agenda is a substantial increase in marketing spend plus an improved level of sales support. Leading the marketing drive is Susan Clark, who spent fourteen years with American Express before leaving to found her own consultancy, Phineus.

In addition, to the facelift. there are plans to increase room yields with such refinements as electric beds and plasma screen TV sets.

News source: Financial Times