LISTED hospitality group African Sun Ltd is mulling rebranding its premium hotels — Crowne Plaza Monomotapa and Elephant Hils — to Legacy Hotels and resorts after management signed a deal with the South African hospitality group.
Legacy operates the opulent Da Vinci Hotel in Sandton.
Businessdigest has also established that while African Sun attributes the recent chopping of nine managers to a general re-organisation meant to align costs to revenue generation and mitigate continued financial constraints, sources said the move was a contrived step towards creating modalities to adopt the new franchise.
Well-placed sources say general managers from Legacy Hotel will be assigned to Zimbabwe to align legacy hotel standards to African sun.
African Sun dismissed managers John Mwanza — group operations director, Mluleki Mangena — supply chain manager, Francis Muswere — group technical services manager, Mevis Geddes — marketing manager, Fadzai Ndudzo — senior auditor, Morlin Rusike — systems support manager, Levy Mutandazuru — internal auditor, Julia Sithole — central reservations and revenue manager; and Colletta Tapfumaneyi — payroll manager.
The move to bring the Legacy franchise was mainly driven by African Sun’s controlling shareholders Brainworks Capital management led by George Manyere, sources said.
Private equity investment and advisory firm, Brainworks Capital Management shored up its shareholding in African Sun to 55,11 % after the closure of its mandatory offer to the hotelier’s minority shareholders in May this year.
While it is not yet clear whether all African Sun hotels will be rebranded to the franchise, sources say Elephant hills and Crowne Plaza Monomotapa hotel are earmarked to bear the Legacy franchise.
African Sun hotels in Zimbabwe are Holiday Inn, Harare, Elephant hills, Victoria falls, Holiday inn, Bulawayo, Troutberg Nyanga, Carribea bay, Kariba, Beitbridge express, Crowne plaza Monomotapa, Harare, Great Zimbabwe, Masvingo, Victoria Falls hotel, Kingdom at Victoria Falls and Hwange safari lodge.
Sources say efforts to bring the new franchise by the beginning of October this year were deferred to the beginning of next year as the group was still weighing options.
However, the hotel group’s acting CEO Edwin Shangwa said the group had not signed an agreement with any firm with a view to franchise, nor were there any such discussions.
“Please not that African Sun ltd is a listed entity on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and as such, if there are any issues of this nature, they will be communicated to the investing public and key stakeholders formally.
“While the board and management of African Sun ltd always strive to maximise on the returns to its shareholders, continuously reviewing business strategies in order to ensure the same, we advise that at present, there are no material engagements within the group. As such, there are no discussions going on, let alone agreements that have been signed with anyone regarding the issues you raised,” Shangwa said.
Legacy prides itself in offering guests a collection of Africa’s most unique and unforgettable four and five-star hotels, resorts and bush lodges with footprints in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia and Gabon.
Sources say the adoption of the Legacy franchise by African Sun may result in poor market share which may be triggered by a hike in hotel charges to meet Legacy standards, which may be unaffordable to a market grappling with poor liquidity crunch and low consumer demand in a country experiencing deflation.
Efforts to get comment from Legacy Hotels were unsuccessful as the group had not responded to emailed questions at the time of going to print.
African Sun also operates hotels in Ghana and Nigeria and the group’s profit before tax in the half-year to March 31, 2015 tumbled to US$670 000 from US$1,77 million in the same period the prior year.