Radisson Blu is Carlson Rezidor's trailblazer brand in Africa: by establishing the hotel in a developing city, the owner can organise everything from water treatment to food supply. Once established, the big names like the new Radisson Red, Park Inn by Radisson and its five-star Quorvus Collection can follow.

Andrew McLachlan is Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s senior vice president of business development for Africa and the Indian Ocean.

And he believes now is a great time to grow across the continent. Carlson Residor launched its first African hotel (the Radisson Blu in Cape Town) in 2000 and now has hotels in 29 countries on the continent.

“For some of these economies that are in a downturn right now, it is actually the right time to get into the market – at the bottom of the cycle, not the top,” says McLachlan, talking about Nigeria in an interview with www.howwemadeitinafrica.com.

He revealed the group will add another 13 hotels to the current two in Nigeria by the end of 2020 covering the brands Radisson Blu, Park Inn, Quorvus Collection, and Radisson Red, a new brand is 'aimed at a millennial mindset'.

Nigeria stricken economy, smashed by the downturn in oil price and the overvalued currency, is Calrson Residor's second most important market after South Africa, where 14 hotels will be constructed by 2020 bringing its total in the country to 20, he said. Its first African Radisson Red hotel in opens in Cape Town in September

“When you go into the hotel sector it’s a long-term play, not a short-term play. So you look at the long-term fundamentals.”

Outside of South Africa and Nigeria, McLachlan said the group has identified “pro-active countries” – where it sees potential to operate about five hotels.

He identified Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Ghana and Algeria, saying "we can have at least five hotels each".

“We might not go into the depths of those markets but we think there are probably at least two locations within each country where we could have a couple of our hotels under at least two of our brands."

He explained: "A key part of the company’s strategy is focusing on economic regions – such as the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Here the operator aims to have a hotel in the commercial hub of each market to cater to regional business travellers. For example, ECOWAS covers 16 countries, of which eight share the same currency, the CFA. Many of these markets are small, and there is not much demand for Carlson Rezidor’s hotel brands outside each country’s main economic hub.

“So we create a business circuit within ECOWAS, where we say we would like to have a hotel in Cotonou, which is the financial hub of Benin, as well as a hotel in Lomé (Togo), Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), and Freetown (Sierra Leone). And we start developing a business circuit within west Africa and one within the upscale segment. So we develop a Radisson Blu first in each of these financial hubs and if the market is developed enough then we follow with a Park Inn by Radisson."

Carlson Rezidor’s other two brands that are being targeted at Africa are Radisson Red and Quorvus Collection. With its first African Radisson Red hotel in Cape Town in September, which emphasises art, music and fashion and has a modern, minimalist design, he said is likely to launch in other South African cities, such as Durban, Johannesburg and possibly Pretoria. McLachlan says he also sees potential to launch the brand in Nairobi, Lagos, Abidjan, Dakar, and Luanda.