18 May

Ascott Rationalises Its Serviced Residence Brands In China To Grow Global Brands

Shanghai, May 18 -- The Ascott Group, Asia Pacific's largest serviced residence company, today rationalised its brands of serviced residences in China as part of efforts to grow its regional brands into global brands. It has revamped its leading brands 'The Ascott' and 'Somerset' with new Chinese names and logos to better reflect the lifestyles they represent. The Ascott brand - - depicts a distinguished and elegant lifestyle, while the Somerset brand - - is contemporary and stylish.

As part of the brand rationalisation process, the group has also renamed its Stamford Court Xu Hui serviced residence in Shanghai to Somerset Xu Hui.

The Ascott Group currently operates three serviced residences in Shanghai -- the 248-unit The Ascott Pudong, 334-unit Somerset Grand Shanghai and 167-unit Somerset Xu Hui. It also manages the 169-unit Somerset Olympic Tower in Tianjin.

Mr Cameron Ong, The Ascott Group's chief operating officer, said: "The outlook for Shanghai's serviced residence sector is good with improved demand, boosted by increased foreign business interest in China, ahead of its anticipated entry into the WTO.

"Our serviced residences in China are performing strongly. At Somerset Grand Shanghai, we outperformed our competitors with 85 per cent occupancy. In Tianjin, our Somerset Olympic Tower achieved one of the highest occupancies among serviced residences in the industrial city, at 90 per cent," he added.

The Ascott Group will open two new properties in Beijing, the 272- unit The Ascott Beijing and 254-unit Somerset Fortune Garden, in the next few months. This will increase its portfolio in China to 1,444 serviced residence units by the end of the year, making it one of the largest serviced residence players in the country.

Mr Ong said that the group plans to focus its presence in China in the two gateway cities of Beijing and Shanghai to build critical mass and forge brand leadership.

"The brand rationalisation of our properties in China accelerates the transformation of our leading brands into global icons. This is key to the successful establishment of our global franchise, with a network of serviced residences in major cities," he added.

The company aims to become a leading global player in the serviced residence industry, with a footprint spanning beyond the Asia Pacific to include Europe and the United States. It targets to grow to 15,000 serviced residence units by 2005, from its current 6,000.

Earlier this year, it announced a S$5 million brand rationalisation and promotion programme. The Ascott, the company's flagship brand, is designed to target top executives and its Somerset brand is directed at middle to upper management executives

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

The company aims to leverage on its brand strength to grow its collection of managed and leased properties to one-third of its portfolio, increasing its capital productivity and ability to realise value beyond its property assets.

About The Ascott Group

The Ascott Group is the Asia Pacific's largest serviced residence company. Its 'The Ascott' and 'Somerset' serviced residence brands are dominant market leaders in the region.

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 trade as "Ascott" on the Singapore Exchange. The group is the serviced residence arm of CapitaLand Limited, Southeast Asia's largest listed property company.

The Ascott Group's Properties in China

Names in English Names in Chinese
The Ascott Pudong, Shanghai
Somerset Grand Shanghai
Somerset Xu Hui, Shanghai
Somerset Olympic Tower, Tianjin
The Ascott Beijing (Due to open)
Somerset Fortune Garden, Beijing (Due to Open)


The Ascott Brand

Somerset Brand

Ida Lim, Vice President
Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Tel: (65) 65867-230 Hp: (65) 9628-8339 Fax: (65) 62272-220

Tay Cheng Cheng, Assistant Manager
Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Tel: (65) 65867-231 Pgr: (65) 9266-0127 Fax: (65) 62272-220