Hospitality group expects ‘to make a lot of money’ in West Africa

African hospitality group Mangalis Management is investing £315m (US$508m) in the construction of 2,200 rooms and suites spread across 15 properties in 13 African countries. The group has launched four brands covering the economy market segment with its Seen and Seen+ hotel brands, as well as the mid-upper segment with Noom Hotels and Noom Résidences.

CEO of Mangalis Management Group Denis Sorin

CEO of Mangalis Management Group Denis Sorin

CEO of Mangalis Management Group Denis Sorin said the firm’s vision is to build homegrown hospitality companies.

“We have a vision for Africa. We are an African group that wants to put Africa on the map,” said Sorin. Rather than being a foreign-owned hotel operating in Africa, “our idea is exactly the opposite. When you go to a Noom or Seen hotel, you will know you are in Africa.”

Mangalis Management is investing in Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

“We looked at the markets and we saw that in those countries they either had an international chain [offering] poor quality or no international chain at all,” said Sorin. “We realised it would be very easy to make a lot of money there.”

Sorin told How we made it in Africa that he expects Mangalis to start making a return on investment “very fast”.

“The trick is we are starting in West Africa [where] the hospitality industry is in a terrible shape. There is nothing; you have a lot of big brands but the quality is terrible. We are opening a hotel soon in Conakry [Guinea] so our colleague is staying in a famous brand there and he told us he had to wait 30 minutes for an espresso. We are coming with brand new buildings, well-trained staff and the service will be very personal and fun.”

Mangalis Management Group is the hospitality management arm of Inaugure Hospitality, founded in 2011 by West African conglomerate Teyliom International.

Teyliom International entered the African hospitality market in 2009 when it opened the Radisson Blu hotel in Dakar, Senegal.

Finding the right staff

Sorin said human capital is the major challenge the group faces.

“The major problem we are having today is finding staff and training them because unfortunately, especially in western Africa, this is a big problem. We are spending a lot of money and energy to hire the best employees and also to make sure we train them to be able to handle visitors from all over the world,” said Sorin.

“There are a lot of Chinese people coming here. Are we able today in Africa to serve Chinese people? Do you know, for instance, that you cannot look at someone in the eye in China? It is forbidden because it is an insult.”

According to Sorin, over the next five years Mangalis Management will be among the five largest hotel groups in Africa with more than 40 properties. The group, headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, also plans to expand across the globe.

“We want to be everywhere in the world,” said Sorin. “Next week we will be in Paris because we have a request for Europe for [our] Seen [brand].”