October 2014 - CEO's Message

October 2014 – CEO’s Message

South Africa is a very unique country indeed. Despite corrupt politicians, wide spread poverty, huge unemployment, large scale skills deficit, trade deficit, aids, Ebola virus and a sinking currency the average South African can put a smile on his face and move forward.

South Africans possess an uncanny resilience to deal with the day to day challenges thrown at them.
Orion is really a microcosm of the wider society and our staff are tough with a “can do” attitude which is aptly described in our brand promise “ It’s Happening”

For the third year running the Orion Group attained TOP EMPLOYER status. Only around 75 dynamic companies in South Africa achieved this. We are truly proud of the fact that we can deliver on our promise to look after our internal customer as best as possible within the framework of economic realities. As tangible proof of our commitment to our staff welfare we introduced a 100% company sponsored funeral benefits scheme for all South African employees.

Orion Real Estate Ltd (ORE) again produced good results with the property portfolio growing to R783 million and profit before tax growing to R45 million.

Going forward ORE will focus on streamlining it’s portfolio of buildings and tenants by developing and acquiring stand alone single tenant buildings. Current developments under consideration are valued at R100 million.

Orion Hotels and Resorts is still on a recovery trajectory with some hotels performing exceptionally well with others still in need of “intensive care” A number of light refurbishment projects have been undertaken. The Devonshire public areas and dining room have been refurbished. R1 million have been invested in new beds at Promenade Hotel, Devonshire Hotel & Katse Lodge.

A massive investment is also the communication and information management systems. The front office system PROTEL has now been installed in all 13 units. A number of PABX’s have been replaced with new state of the art digital equipment which allows communication by internet and creating WIFI capabilities. Energy efficiency is top priority and a number of new hot water systems have been installed making use of Heat pump technology. This is also a multi million Rand project.

A big project was the re organising central reservations and on-line travel agency channel management. This project should be complete by end 2014 with the Mauritian channel management and reservations company up and running.

We measure customer satisfaction on a continuous basis via our eguest survey programme. The trendlines are encouraging with most properties meeting and exceeding national aveages. Another guest satisfaction measure is Trip Advisor with some of our hotels receiving top accolades from Trip Advisor. As with any “work in Progress” much work is still to be done.

Although no new acquisitions were concluded during 2014 we anticipate some deals to materialise in 2015.

The Services Division comprising, Orion Facilities Management (OFM), Orion Business Solutions (OBS), Bakwena Day Spa, Eagle Fleet Solutions and a number of support departments also performed well during the past year. Time and effort was spent on streamlining administrative efficiencies. The results of this efficiency drive will be evident in 2015.

OFM in partnership with a BEE consortium has secured some government contracts. OBS is continuing to deliver a quality service to Orion and its internationally accredited coaching training course is attended by executives from large South African companies. OBS has also secured a number of government contracts for its executive coaching programme.

BAKWENA DAY SPA is growing at a healthy pace. Bakwena now operate a full scale spa at Velmore and two Bakwena Express spas at Ditholo Lodge & Magoebaskloof Hotel. On 1 November 2014 a full scale Bakwena spa and Bakwena DE LUX is being launched at Sante Hotel in the winelands. With superb customer feedback this business has a bright future.

The remaining service divisions are continuously monitored and we are expecting good service delivery and improved efficiencies in 2015.

Our Group strategy for 2015 includes:

  • Expanding our commercial property portfolio by acquisition & development.
  • Pursuing our African continent expansion plans aggressively.
  • Grow hotel revenues aggressively
  • Be madly passionate about customer service
  • Concluding more BEE transactions
  • Become a world class organisation.
  • Be a company that passionately looks after all its stakeholders