SHANGHAI, Jan. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia-FirstCall/ -- The Board of Directors of China Lodging Group, Limited (NASDAQ: HTHT) ("China Lodging Group" or the "Company") today announced the appointment of Qi Ji, Executive Chairman, to take on the additional role of Chief Executive Officer, replacing Tuo (Matthew) Zhang, effective immediately. Zhang was elected as a non-executive board member and the Vice-chairman of the Board on January 3, 2012. Ji and Zhang will complete the transition over CEO role before the end of February 29, 2012. After the transition, in addition to serving on the board, Zhang will also serve the company in the capacity of a consultant.
Qi Ji is one of the most experienced and successful leaders in China's travel and lodging sector. He founded China Lodging Group in 2005 and served as the CEO until 2009. In the past two years, he acted as the Executive Chairman, with a primary focus on company strategy and new hotel development. Under his leadership, the company grew from nil to more than 600 hotels within 7 years. He was also the architect of the multi-brand strategy HanTing pioneered in the limited-service hotel industry in China. Currently HanTing owns three brands, known as HanTing Express Hotel, Seasons Hotel and Hi Inn. Before founding China Lodging Group, Ji was a co-founder of Ctrip and Home Inns.
Ji is the visionary behind the tremendous growth and success HanTing experienced. China's travel accommodation market is large, fast-growing and fragmented. We see significant growth opportunities ahead. To tackle the opportunities and to carry the company into the next phase as a leading hotel group in the world, the company needs to cultivate new brands and to maintain entrepreneurial spirit in a quickly expanding corporation. The board believes that there is no better person than Qi Ji to lead HanTing through the growth, the brand innovation and the organizational expansion.