Saudi Arabia’s Jabal Omar Development Company returns to profit

The biggest clock in the world with a 45 meters diameter, overlooks the Grand Mosque. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Jabal Omar Development Company returns to profit

  • Developer launches roadshow to promote 'Address' brand
  • Taps into rising occupancy rates in holy city

LONDON: The Saudi developer behind the transformation of the center of Makkah — Jabal Omar Development Company — has returned to profit in the third quarter after a string of losses over the last year.
The change in fortune will be welcomed by the Tadawul-listed company as it pushes forward with its luxury hotel, residential and retail developments being built to meet the anticipated growth in demand from visitors and pilgrims to the holy city.
Net profit — minus Zakat and tax — reached SR469.62 million ($125.13 million) for the three months ending Sept. 30 in a Saudi exchange filing on Tuesday. This compared to a loss of SR593.97 million recorded in the same quarter last year.
Jabal Omar said the improved profits were due to increased revenue from sales of residential units.
Third-quarter revenue reached SR1.32 billion compared to revenue of SR45.52 million in the same time period the previous year.
The developer also cited a “positive performance” within its commercial sector as well as a reduction in some of the company’s financial burdens.
The results come in the same month Jabal Omar launched a three-day roadshow on Oct. 8 to market its new “Address“-branded Makkah luxury hotel development.
It is a project being managed by Dubai-based Emaar Hospitality Group — the company behind the high-end “Address” hotel brand. Jabal Omar said is looking to sell 741 freehold units.
The project marks the first time Emaar’s ‘Address Hotels and Resorts’ brand has expanded into Saudi Arabia. It is scheduled to open in 2019 and it will be just a few steps away from the Grand Mosque.
Market commentators say they expect demand for luxury hotels and other residential projects in Makkah to continue to be “strong” in the coming year — something Jabal Omar Development Co. will be keen to capitalize on.
“Makkah is a unique market and there is strong demand for luxury hotels throughout the year. A large proportion of demand for luxury hotels come from wealthy GCC travelers, who are largely repeat visitors to the Holy City,” said Rashid Aboobacker, director at the Dubai-based tourism consultancy, TRI Consulting.
“There has always been high demand for luxury residences in Makkah close to the Haram, driven by the prestige and special status of the location as well as the limited supply,” he said.
“Once the ongoing expansion works are complete, the visitor numbers are set to increase substantially. Consequently, we do not foresee any risk of overcapacity in Makkah in the foreseeable future,” he added.
He added that alongside the growth in luxury developments, there is also a “growing need” for midscale and economy hotels and apartments.
“We believe that there is also need for upgrade of the existing stock as a large proportion of them do not fully conform to international quality standards and guest requirements,” he said.
Christopher Lund, head of hotels, Mena, at the consultancy Colliers International, noted that the luxury sector tends to perform better than other parts of the Makkah hospitality market.
“The 5-star upper-upscale and luxury hotels in Makkah have outperformed the overall market, achieving a 12 percent higher occupancy level year-to-date September 2018, which is primarily due to the fact that the 5-star hotels are located in the most prime locations in the central area,” he said.
“So far in 2018, hotels in the central area have achieved a 49 percent higher RevPar (revenue per available room than the overall Makkah quality hotel market.”


Lufthansa profit warning spooks European airline sector

Updated 17 June 2019
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Lufthansa profit warning spooks European airline sector

  • Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary last month warned of the impact of what he called ‘attritional fare wars’

FRANKFURT: Germany’s Lufthansa sent shockwaves through the European airline sector on Monday as it cut its full-year profit forecast, with lower prices and higher fuel costs compounding the effect of losses at its budget subsidiary Eurowings.
The warning follows gloomy comments last month from Irish budget airline Ryanair, which vies with Lufthansa for top spot in Europe in terms of passengers carried. Air France-KLM also reported a widening quarterly loss last month.
In a statement issued late on Sunday, Lufthansa forecast annual EBIT of between €2 billion and €2.4 billion, down from the previously targeted €2.4 billion to €3 billion.
“Yields in the European short-haul market, in particular in the group’s home markets, Germany and Austria, are affected by sustained overcapacities caused by carriers willing to accept significant losses to expand their market share,” it said.
European airlines are locked in a battle for supremacy, with a surfeit of seats holding down revenues and higher fuel costs adding to the pressure. A number of smaller airlines have collapsed over the past two years.
Lufthansa cited falling revenue from its Eurowings budget business as a key reason for the profit warning.
“The group expects the European market to remain challenging at least for the remainder of 2019,” it said.
It also pointed to high jet fuel costs, which it said could exceed last year’s figure by €550 million, despite a recent fall in crude oil prices.
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary last month warned of the impact of what he called “attritional fare wars” and said four or five European airlines were likely to emerge as the winners in the sector.
“No signs that anyone is prepared to reduce capacity, therefore we would anticipate the wave of consolidation in European short haul is not over,” said analyst Neil Wilson, analyst at London-based broker market.com.
Earlier this month global airlines slashed a widely watched industry profit forecast by 21 percent as an expanding trade war and higher oil prices compound worries about an overdue industry slowdown.
Lufthansa’s problems are centered on its European business, with a more positive outlook for its long-haul operations, especially on transatlantic and Asian routes.
Eurowings management is due to implement turnaround measures to be presented shortly, Lufthansa said, adding that efforts to reduce costs had so far been slower than expected.
Lufthansa’s adjusted margin for earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) was forecast between 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent, down from 6.5 percent to 8 percent previously, it said in a statement.
Lufthansa also said it would make a €340 million provision for in its first-half accounts, relating to a tax matter in Germany originating in the years between 2001 and 2005.