13 Mar

Ascott Rationalises Its Brands To Grow Global Brands

The Ascott Group has embarked on a $5 million brand rationalisation and promotion exercise of its serviced residences in 16 cities in 10 countries.

The residences will be rationalised into its two strongest brands – The Ascott luxury residences for top executives and stylish Somerset brand for senior and upper management executives.

The initiative, which involves the group’s 6,000 serviced residence units, paves the development of its successful regional brands into global brands.

The Ascott Group’s chief operating officer, Mr Cameron Ong, said: "The real driver of our future performance will be our global franchise – our ability to provide a network of serviced residences in major cities, with economies of scale.

"Our brands will power our growth into a leading player in the global serviced residence industry. Our success will be driven by our expertise in transforming our leading brands in the Asia Pacific into compelling global icons."

The largest serviced residence company in the Asia Pacific, The Ascott Group targets to grow to 15,000 serviced residence units by 2005, compared to its current 6,000 units.

The group’s properties which will soft open in the next few months have been branded The Ascott Pudong, Shanghai; The Ascott Beijing; and Somerset Fortune Garden, Beijing.

Mr Ong said that the company will also leverage on its brand strength to secure more serviced residence management contracts. This will enable it to grow its third party management projects to one third of its total portfolio, increasing its capital productivity and ability to realise value beyond its property assets.

The Ascott brand depicts a distinguished and elegant lifestyle, while the Somerset brand is contemporary, stylish and friendly. A secondary portfolio of unbranded properties under the "Managed by Ascott International Management" banner enables the company to cater to a wider spectrum of corporate needs. This category includes The Heritage collection of colonial bungalows.

Mr Ong said that the group’s brand strength will be built on its innovative products, quality of customer experience and consistency in product and service standards.

The company will continue to invest in product development and design. Today it is the first serviced residence company in Singapore to provide its customers with real-time on-line reservations. Clients making bookings over the Internet receive immediate response and confirmation, and can make "virtual tours" to check out the room type they have chosen.

The Ascott Group was also the first serviced residence company to introduce easy "plug and play" broadband Internet access at its residences. Guests at The Ascott Singapore are given home phones which are also mobile phones, so that they can answer and make calls from anywhere in the country.

The company works with leading interior designers and architects to continually refine its residence design and furnishings to incorporate signature features that enable the lifestyles depicted in the brands.

The group aims to enrich its guests’ living experience, through its emphasis on its "heartware" or service quality, and network of guest support services. These range from organising events to enable guests to experience the local culture to networking activities to help them integrate with the community.

Mr Ong said that The Ascott Training Institute not only arms staff with the knowledge and skills to provide superior service, but also motivates them to practise The Ascott "service passion".

To ensure consistency in product and service quality, the company conducts regular audits at its residences across the region. Its systems are also continually refined and benchmarked against the world’s best companies.

Mr Ong said that The Ascott Group is able to provide its customers with greater value because of its more efficient cost structure and greater economies of scale than its competitors. For instance, because of its critical mass, the group is able to cluster its properties within each country to centralise its marketing and administrative functions, and extensively employ bulk procurement.

To speedily service its customers anywhere in the world, the company uses the latest e-technology. Its customer relationship management system which integrates data from its customer base, central reservations, sales and property management units has been upgraded. A Virtual Private Network communications system enables site-to-site branch office networking across the region, allowing staff to coordinate operations instantaneously.

The Ascott Group is Asia Pacific’s largest serviced residence company. Created through the merger between The Ascott Limited and Somerset Holdings Limited in November 2000, the group owns and/or manages over 6,000 serviced residence units in 16 cities in 10 countries.

Headquartered in Singapore, The Ascott Group’s shares are listed on the Singapore Exchange as "Ascott". The group is the serviced residence arm of CapitaLand Limited, Southeast Asia's largest listed property company.







Ida Lim, Vice President
Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Tel: 65867-230 Hp: 9-628-8339 Fax: 62272-220

Dennis Foo, Chief Corporate Officer
Tel: 5867-181 Hp: 9-6744-353 Fax: 5867-202