Lonrho CEO Geoffey White. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Lonrho CEO Geoffey White. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

DIVERSIFIED investment holding company Lonrho said on Wednesday it was entering the South African hotel market through its exclusive franchise agreement with easyGroup.

The first easyHotel.com-branded hotel will open on Tuesday in De Korte Street, Johannesburg.

Lonrho said its arrival in the South African market was significant given the location of the property "and the fact that it comes at the budget end of the market".

Lonrho CEO Geoffrey White said the project between easyGroup and Lonrho was the start of the roll-out of easyHotels.com by the latter throughout Africa.

"This will be the first of many hotels specifically designed to provide an international standard hotel room at a budget price," Mr White said.

The "easyHotel by Lonrho" will offer 60 bedrooms across seven floors and be the "first transcontinental hotel brand in Africa specifically designed to be accessible to the many rather than the few", Lonrho said.

The low-cost business model will allow customers to enjoy an international hotel bedroom at affordable prices.

The easyHotel brand is a London-based chain of budget hotels with operations in cities including Glasgow and Dubai.

Lonrho’s existing hotel portfolio includes the Hotel Cardoso in Maputo, the Leopard Rock Hotel & Championship Golf Course in Mutare, Grand Karavia in Lubumbashi, Grand Hotel Kinshasa and Lansmore Masa Square in Gaborone.

The opening of the first hotel venture with easyGroup in Johannesburg’s central business district demonstrated Lonrho Hotels’ strategy of operating hotels in Africa’s "high-demand, high-growth destinations", Mr White said.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, chairman of easyGroup, said Johannesburg had "a wealth of attractions for leisure and business visitors and this new easyHotel will allow them to enjoy the best of Johannesburg, without the expense".

Last year, Lonrho and easyGroup established low-cost African airline Fastjet, which plans to be a pan-African operator.

Fastjet has shown an interest in acquiring South African low-cost carrier 1time, which was forced to seek protection from its creditors in August last year and entered a business rescue process.