OYO Welcomes Martin HP Söderström as an investor in the company; announces his appointment as a member of its BoD of the European Vacation Homes business

13 January 2021

OYO and its European business of OYO Vacation Homes (OVH) has announced that Martin HP Söderström has joined the company’s Board in the region as a Non-executive Director.

Söderström will also be buying shares worth an undisclosed amount in the parent company. Belvilla, along with its sister brands, including DanCenter, Danland, Traum Ferienwohnugen, Stugsommar, TUI Ferienhaus which are a part of the OYO family, offers a choice of vacation homes to customers all across Europe, especially in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Nordic & Southern European countries. OYO’s vacation homes business has gone from niche to mainstream within just one year. It is therefore a large and critical part of the company’s global business, and OYO is committed to investing and growing it. In recent months, an additional 3,400 homeowners throughout Europe have joined the company adding more than 5,000 homes to the current portfolio of the company.

After the recent conclusion of the acquisition of TUI Ferienhaus business from e-domizil GmbH, the company is now the second-largest globally in the vacation homes space by number of homes.

As a member of the Board, Söderström will work closely with the management team of OYO to drive continued and sustainable growth in the company. He will provide guidance on potential M&A opportunities, and would also assist the organization in building deep strategic partnerships with other leading, EU-based companies and lay out its brand positioning strategy as a thought leader in the vacation rental space.

With a strong background in banking, specifically corporate finance advisory and strategic M&As, and deep expertise in the private banking and family office market, Söderström is a veteran in building and growing technology-led companies and a notable name in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is Chairman of DIG Investment, a private investment office focused on direct investments in the global alternatives market, which he founded in 2011. Its primary area of investments are in tech-related companies in the growth to Pre-IPO phase. Today, DIG Investment has a portfolio in Asia, Europe and the US within consumer brands, shared economies, retail, hospitality.

Söderström is also the Chairman & Founder of HMP (private office), HH&P Executive Search (HR/ Recruitment), and HM Philip (Advisory Boutique). He is also the Founding Member of Brilliant Minds (a Symposium held in Stockholm) and DJURSHOLM Country Club (a Family Members Club in Stockholm). He is also on the Board of Ocean Outdoor (Digital out of home), Randviken (real estate), and Grundens (Commercial & Sportfishing apparel). He is also a Senior Advisor at Polar Structure (Infrastructure in the Nordics), and supports and guides a large group of Swedish and International single-family offices.

Söderström’s appointment further signals OYO’s commitment towards strengthening its corporate governance globally. The company had earlier appointed Troy Alstead, former COO Starbucks, Gerardo Issac (Gerry) Lopez, Operating Partner at SoftBank Vision Fund, Betsy Atkins, CEO & Founder of Baja Corporation and Dr W. Steve Albrecht as the members of OYO’s Global Board.

Commenting on the development, Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes, said, “For OYO, its customers and homeowners in the EU region, especially in the Nordics, hold immense strategic importance. Given Martin’s deep understanding of the region and strong business acumen, I am elated to welcome him as an investor and a fellow Board member at OYO Europe. He has a proven track record of investing and growing tech-focused businesses in India and globally with immense knowledge about the Asian and global entrepreneurial and investment ecosystem. We are positive that his deep experience in M&As and working with high-growth companies will add a lot of value to our growth journey in Europe, both organic and inorganic, and support us in our long-term goal of an IPO. Today, OYO’s Vacation Home business in Europe is leading OYO’s road to recovery, given customers’ trust and continued preference for small and independent boutique homes and hotels over large five-star properties. I see this trend of small hotels and vacation homes leading a structural change in the industry, and I believe ‘small is the new big’. We are already seeing this in action in the form of healthy booking, occupancies and revenue trends.

“I must add that my first interaction with Martin happened over a long call where I was in a small hill town in India and he was in Sweden. That day made me realise two things. One, how technology is breaking boundaries, and two, how we both have common aspirations of creating an impact by generating employment opportunities, supporting entrepreneurs and creating better living spaces across Europe, Scandinavia and the world at large. I look forward to working with Martin,” he added.

As the world continues to cope and certain economies open up, OYO has started seeing green shoots of progress and recovery. Occupancies and demand have shown an upward trend across all the brands, including Belvilla, DanCenter, Danland, Stugsommar Traum Ferienwohnungen and TUI Ferienhaus. There is a new trend of people working from a ‘holiday home’, while advance bookings under these brands continue to grow.

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