by editor’s office, chd

Showdown at Steigenberger: CEO André Witschi has left the company at the turn of the year. No comments were made as to the reasons for his unexpected withdrawal.

Having stepped down from his position as chairman of Accor Deutschland in July 2007 after internal disputes, Witschi joined Steigenberger in early 2008. Only recently, he had ruled out a sudden retirement as a result of the company being taken over by Egypt-based Travco Group. CFO Matthias Eck will be taking over Witschi’s duties (company development, operations, marketing and sales) for the time being. A successor to Witschi has yet to be named.

From left to right: CFO Matthias Heck, majority shareholder Hamed El Chiaty, and former CEO André Witschi, who has since left Steigenberger

Witschi’s appointment to CEO had been an affront to Karl Anton Schattmaier, who was subsequently demoted to Vice Chairman. Schattmaier left the company soon after and is now head of Thomas Cook’s Sentido Hotels.

In late September, Witschi and new majority shareholder Hamed El Chiaty had elaborated on their new expansion strategy, stating that contracts for eleven hotels comprising some 2,400 rooms had already been signed, with additional hotels being in varying stages of planning. 2010 and 2011 will see InterCityHotels go live in five German locations, including Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, Bonn, Darmstadt, Mannheim and Ingolstadt, and two grand hotels will be opening in Leipzig and on Usedom Island in 2011.

Steigenberger should have suffered notable losses in 2009. At the end of the third quarter, turnover was down around ten percent on the previous year. Room utilization rates dropped 7.5 percent, with average rates dropping by 5.5 percent. Steigenberger had been forced to discontinue the management of its properties in Meran and Bad Reichenhall the year before.

Original article in German courtesy of www.tophotel.de

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