PARIS-French hotels group Accor is planning a massive expansion of its hotels in Japan with the aim of becoming the largest chain in its sector in Japan.The French group is already market leader in Asia-Pacific with 213 hotels and a euro 1.2-billion ($1.5-billion) turnover. Now it plans to wrest market lead in Japan from rival Marriott which has 14 hotels. With eight hotels in Japan at present, Accor chairman Jean-Marc Espalioux says that the group can outdo domestic market leader Marriott. He says that the group plans to do this by forming partnerships with medium-sized business hotels outside Tokyo.Earlier this year, Accor formed a partnership earlier this year with Japanese property group Mitsui Fudosan with the purpose of acquiring hotel management contracts for some of Japan’s 2,000 business hotels. Espalioux says that smaller hotels do not have the resources to reach an international clientele or to train personnel, and could benefit from partnerships with Accor. Accor is already one of the world’s leading hotel operators, owning or managing almost 4,000 properties throughout the world in all price ranges. Sofitel is its main brand entrant in the luxury market, but the company’s strength has been built on moderate and budget brands like Etap, Ibis, and Formule 1, as well as US-based Motel 6 and Red Roof Inns. With more than three-quarters of its hotels located in Europe and North America, the company is now expanding in underdeveloped markets, primarily in Asia, South America and Africa.

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