Add Sofitel to Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Hermès—France's most luxurious brands. At least that is what its owner, Accor, wants to do. Accor plans to take the best of its 182 Sofitels up market, dumping 35 of the less felicitious Sofitels into a new brand called Pullman. With some polish and what the Financial Times calls “le French touch,” Accor hopes to raise room rates.
An obstacle to its success is France's refusal to allow ratings higher than four stars, though the government is reviewing this policy. One analyst thinks the problem is bigger. He doesn't think Sofitel will be able to get enough management contracts in the luxury sector. This won't be helped, the analyst says, by Sofitel's decision to brand the standout hotels as Sofitel Legends and others as So by Sofitel.