Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts in India is to introduce a third category of hotels with a new brand name during the first half of 2012.

Leela vice-chairman and managing director Vivek Nair said the new brand would be targeted at a different segment from its present operations, according to Gulf News.

"It will not be a mid-scale or economy brand, but a first-class one targeted at tier-II cities in India," Nair said.

The hospitality group, which is aiming the new brand at cities such as Patna, Ahmedabad and Delhi, said that the venture would not be in partnership with any other company.

Leela also plans to explore opportunities to bring its new brand to the Middle East.

The group, which has eight properties across India, has a marketing alliance with Germany-based Kempinski Hotels for all its Indian properties, and plans to increase its portfolio to 14 hotels over the next two years.

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Leela will open new hotels in Chennai in 2012, and will develop properties in Agra, Lake Ashtamudi and Jaipur.

Once the Chennai hotel is opened, within the next two months, Nair expects the company’s turnover to hit Rs8.5bn in the next financial year.

Construction of the 111-room Agra property, The Leela Palace, will start in March 2012.

Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, which is owned and managed by Hotel Leelaventure, has a collection of hotels and resorts in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Gurgaon-Delhi NCR, Udaipur, Goa and Kovalam.