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Our history

From the first Bass brewery in 1777 to one of the world’s leading hotel companies, IHG’s history is one of pioneering people and new ideas. Take a look…

Our history


William Bass sets up a brewery in Burton-on-Trent. The Bass business thrives, developing into one of the UK's leading brewers.


The Bass red triangle becomes the first trademark to be registered in the UK.



Bass acquires a number of well-known regional brewing companies including Mitchells & Butlers in the Midlands (1961), before merging with Charringtons in London in 1967. These acquisitions make Bass one of the largest brewers and pub owners in the UK.


Bass makes its first significant international move into the hotel industry, buying Holiday Inns International.

Holiday Inn sign


The Beer Orders legislation is passed. This limits the number of tied pubs that major brewers can own and signals a major industry restructuring.

Bass reduces the number of pubs that it owns dramatically and focuses on larger outlets. At the same time, it directs cashflow into developing an international hotel business.


Bass buys the North American Holiday Inn business and Holiday Inn grows internationally.


Bass launches Holiday Inn Express, a complementary brand in the limited service segment.


Bass launches Crowne Plaza, a move into the upscale hotel market.

Crowne Plaza

Bass's pubs business continues to grow. The business has also become increasingly branded. Bass opens the first O'Neill’s public house in 1994 and acquires the restaurant chain Harvester in September 1995.

The Harvester acquisition, the development of the All Bar One brand in 1994 and the acquisition of the Browns restaurant chain marks a significant commitment to the growing eating out market in the UK.


Bass's attempt to acquire half of the Carlsberg-Tetley brewing business in the UK is blocked by the UK government.

Bass renews its focus on its hotels and pubs divisions. Over the next few years, it sells smaller, non-core businesses such as Gala bingo and Coral bookmakers, along with some of its pubs, including the leased pub business.


As the hotel business becomes more purely brand focused, Bass sells its North American midscale hotel buildings, but keeps control of the branding of the hotels through franchise agreements.

Bass creates and launches a new hotel brand, Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn. It's an entry into the profitable North American upscale extended stay market. Staybridge Suites becomes the fastest brand in this segment to reach 50 units in the Americas.

Staybridge Suites


Bass acquires the InterContinental hotel company, adding an upper upscale brand to its hotel portfolio. It's an acquisition that brings considerable synergies and cost savings.


The group strengthens its pub division in the UK by cherry picking 550 high-potential sites from Punch Taverns, who had acquired the 3,500 strong pub estate of Allied Domecq.


By acquiring Southern Pacific Hotels Corporation (SPHC) in Australia, Bass confirms its position as the leading hotel company in Asia Pacific.

It also acquires Bristol Hotels & Resorts Inc., a US-based hotel management company comprising 112 hotels operating mainly under leases. This gives the group a stronger management contract presence in the world's largest hotel market.

The group sells Bass Brewers to a major Belgian brewer for £2.3 billion.

This marks the final step in refocusing the group from a domestic brewing operation to a leading international hospitality retailer – a process that has taken over ten years to complete.

It also involves the sale of the Bass name and a change of name to Six Continents PLC – a name that better reflects the global spread of the group's businesses.

Six Continents


In February, Six Continents sells 988 smaller, unbranded pubs for £625 million.

In April, it acquires the European Posthouse chain of hotels for £810 million. The chain has hotels in strategic locations that are suitable for conversion to Holiday Inn, consolidating the Holiday Inn brand in the UK and Europe.

The group buys the InterContinental Hong Kong for £241 million, strengthening its position in the upscale hotel market in the key Chinese and Asia Pacific markets.


On 1 October, Six Continents PLC announces the proposed separation of the group’s hotels and soft drinks businesses (to be called InterContinental Hotels Group PLC) from the retail business (to be called Mitchells & Butlers plc), and the return of £700 million of capital to shareholders.

This process is completed on 15 April 2003. InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (IHG) is now a distinct, discrete company, listed in the UK and the US stock markets.

InterContinental Hotel Group plc


In July, IHG sells 16 Staybridge Suites hotels to Hospitality Properties Trust (HPT) and enters into a 20-year management agreement.

In December, IHG adds the midscale extended stay brand Candlewood Suites to its portfolio.


In April, IHG announces the introduction of a new brand, Hotel Indigo, focused on providing affordable boutique accommodation.

Hotel Indigo

In the same month, the group adopts new standards for selling or re-selling hotel rooms for guest stays through online travel companies.


Following the success of the extended stay Staybridge Suites brand in North America, IHG launches Staybridge Suites UK in April 2005.

IHG announces the disposal of 100% of its holding in Britvic plc. IHG is now a company with a pure hotels focus.


IHG signs an operating joint venture with All Nippon Airways (ANA). The resulting joint venture – IHG ANA Hotels Group Japan – will be the largest international hotel operator in Japan, the world’s second largest hotel market. The deal sees the introduction of three new brands created for Japan: ANA-InterContinental, ANA-Crowne Plaza and ANA-Holiday Inn.

Champagne glasses


IHG announces a worldwide relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand family, comprising Holiday Inn, Express by Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. The relaunch programme will give Holiday Inn a refreshed and contemporary brand image. All Holiday Inn hotels open or under development are expected to have implemented the relaunch programme by the end of 2010, with the first due to open in mid 2008 in the US.

Holiday Inn logos


IHG entered the timeshare market through an exclusive licensing and marketing agreement, launching our Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand.


Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express are announced by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) as the 'Official Hotel Services Provider to London 2012' and a Tier Three commercial partner.

IHG launches 'Green Engage', an online system to help hotels manage their energy consumption more effectively. The system compares hotels of a similar nature across the world and lists actions hotels can take to reduce waste, and energy and water consumption.


IHG entered an innovative alliance with the Las Vegas Sands Corp., bringing The Venetian and The Palazzo Resorts into the InterContinental system.

IHG launches its Priority Club Rewards iPhone app, complementing IHG's mobile websites that provide customers with the functionality to find and book hotel rooms, check rates and view or change reservations for all seven of its brands.


IHG launches 'Best Price Guarantee', the website guarantee for guests booking on any IHG brand site. Any guest who finds a qualifying, lower room price for an IHG hotel elsewhere online will receive their first night free and the rest of their stay will match the price found.

Best Price Guarantee logo


In February, IHG launches EVEN™ Hotels, the first mainstream hotel brand focused on wellness and fulfilling the demand for healthier travel.

EVEN Hotels logo

The following month, IHG unveils the first upscale international hotel brand designed with the Chinese traveller in mind, HUALUXE™ Hotels and Resorts.

Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts logo


IHG was the first in the industry to commit to free guest internet for all loyalty members worldwide.

Last updated 06 May 2015

Find out more about our brands

IHG logo

  • InterContinental Hotel & Resort logo
  • Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts logo
  • Crowne Plaza logo
  • Hotel Indigo logo
  • Even Hotels logo
  • Holiday Inn logo
  • Holiday Inn Express logo
  • Holiday Inn Resort logo
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations logo
  • Staybridge Suites logo
  • Candlewood Suites logo
  • Priority Club logo