SilverNeedle to launch Next in Brisbane

SilverNeedle to launch Next in Brisbane
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Hotel group SilverNeedle has completed its $57 million acquisition of the Chifley at Lennons Hotel in Brisbane, revealing plans to reopen it as the first property under its business-focused Next brand.

The 150-room property, already managed by Silverneedle, will undergo refurbishment and expansion to take its room count to just over 300, for completion in 2014. It will continue operating during the construction work.

SilverNeedle managing director and chief executive Iqbal Jumabhoy told Travel Today that while Asia had been touted as the location for the first four-star Next property, Australia had always been on the cards. But when the Brisbane property went on the market, it had been pushed to the front of the queue.

“It was more circumstances than anything else,” he said. “But we were always going to do something in Australia given our large installed base and our commitment to this market.”

Jumabhoy qualified the firm’s choice of Brisbane as the launch city for the new brand, saying prospects for hotels in the city looked “very strong”.

He described all of Australia’s key cities as an “excellent fit” for Next, but revealed the next property will most likely be in Asia, with negotiations underway.

However, Jumabhoy stressed that the rebadging of the Brisbane property did not signal a shift of focus away from existing brands Chifley and Country Comfort.

He revealed Silverneedle is currently in talks to take both the Chifley and Country Comfort brands into Asia, with two Chifleys on the cards in South East Asia and two Country Comforts looking likely in South Asia.

“Both brands are intrinsically strong and their appeal is not just an Australian appeal,” he said. “We think their brands are strong enough to stand up against other brands internationally.”

Meanwhile, the Australian market remains “very strong”, according to Jumabhoy.

“We are making our first significant capital commitment into this market so that gives some indication of our view of the market,” he added.

Last year, the firm outlined a target of 10,000 rooms within five years with Jumabhoy confirming it is now “moving ahead” on that goal.

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