New Midconsort Elite boss Paul Cowley has vowed to roll out an aggressive recruitment policy to take the West Midlands-based consortium nationwide.

As general manager, Cowley has been tasked with growing the consortium’s membership from the existing 86 travel agents to 150 in three years, a move likely to involve poaching agents from rival groups.

Chairman Neil Basnett said: “As a tour operator Cowley speaks to agents all the time and knows there is a lot of unrest among upmarket agents.”

Three-quarters of the consortium’s members are based in the West Midlands. Cowley plans to expand in “areas of the country where we only have one or two members”.

He said: “Midconsort lost its direction and membership started to dwindle as other consortia got aggressive. We must now be more aggressive and become national. This will show agents there is an alternative out there.”

Cowley will also focus on reducing the number of preferred suppliers and developing Midconsort’s technology, including the implementation of the new dynamic packaging tool Elite Desktop.

A detailed business plan will be thrashed out at a board meeting at the end of the month, which Cowley will attend. He joins officially next month.

Cowley, who started his travel career as an agent with Marina Holidays and Woodcock Travel, leaves Jewel in the Crown, where he has been sales director for the past five years.

He beat seven other candidates, including former Galaxy Travel boss Geoff Blagg, to the post and replaces former chief executive Charles Eftichiou who left to set up independent group Connoisseur for S8.

He retains his positions on the Institute for Travel and Tourism board and on ABTA’s Membership and Code of Conduct committees.