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Indian Hotels, Owners of Taj Brand Raise Top Brass Salaries
by 20 to 30 Percent, Aim to Retain Talent

By Lijee Philip, The Economic Times, IndiaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 23, 2009--MUMBAI, India -- Even as the hospitality industry grapples with a difficult year, salaries of key personnel in one of the country's largest hotel companies, Indian Hotels, has risen by 20 to 30 percent. According to people familiar with the development, the rise in compensation levels at Indian Hotels, owners of the Taj brand, is aimed at retaining scarce talent in a competitive world.

Indian Hotels MD Raymond Bickson saw his salary go up by 17 percent to Rs 5.3 crore, while that of company executive director finance Anil Goel went up by 10 percent to Rs 1.15 crore, according to the company's latest annual report. The salary of Abhijit Mukherji, ED-hotel operations, rose by 31 percent to Rs 89 lakh, the report added.

Salaries of other senior executives such as Rajiv Gujral (COO, M&A) and Jyoti Narang (COO luxury hotels) went up by 13 percent and 15 percent respectively, Indian Hotels said.

The impact from higher salaries is also reflected in the balance sheet of Indian Hotels. Staff costs have gone up by 25 percent to Rs 389 crore, according to the annual financial statements for the fiscal ended March 2009. Incidentally, the company has put a freeze on new recruitments and also on posts that fell vaccant due to natural attrition.

The recession worldwide has impacted the hospitality business with Indian Hotels' international operations taking the brunt. Revenues from its overseas unit fell by more than 23 percent. The company has its footprint in the US, Europe and Southeast Asia, with business from such operations accounting for about 25 percent of total revenue.

Indian Hotels management contracts in the Middle East have slowed down due to the financial crisis, while the company's projects in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah have been on hold for a year.

The group has been using the management contract route to grow its Vivanta and Gateway brands. For the Vivanta brand, the group is setting up projects in Gurgaon, Kakarduma, Bekala and Pondicherry, while for the Gateway brand, projects in Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Bangalore are expected to open in the next couple of years.

With a global recovery widely expected around the end of this fiscal, tourist inflow is expected to rise, Indian Hotels said in its latest annual report.

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To see more of The Economic Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://economictimes.indiatimes.com

Copyright (c) 2009, The Economic Times, India

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