Leading homeworking agency Travel Counsellors is expanding beyond the UK and expects a start-up business in the US to match its turnover in Britain in five years.

The company plans to launch officially in the US in January with up to 100 home-based travel agents.

It has already begun selling in the market with a group of eight agents who also sit on an advisory board, and it will target recruits in Florida between now and Christmas.

Travel Counsellors managing director Steve Byrne will head the US operation.

He said: “It’s a massive challenge in a very competitive market, with about 45,000 home-based agents already. But our members will all have accredited qualifications, which only 1% of US agents have.”

Travel Counsellors has 670 homeworkers in the UK, up from 430 two years ago, and aims to continue adding in excess of 100 a year.

It reported a turnover of £180 million last year and expects to hit £300 million in the UK in five years, with a similar amount from the US.

But its emphasis now is on recruiting owner-managers of agencies who see the attractions of a franchise operation.

The company offers comprehensive consumer financial protection through a combination of ATOL-bonding, insurance and a trust arrangement, and deals with marketing, training and administration.

Byrne said: “We started recruiting agency owners in the UK three months ago, people who have had a shop or a number of shops and can’t see a future on the high street. We free them from the cost of bonding. We do the commercial deals and administration. They keep their customers.”

Agents pay a fee to join, plus a monthly administration charge, and 40% of the margin on sales.