The Thomas Cook Group bought Hotels4u.com because of its strong management team and technology as well as the opportunities it offers for growth, particularly in Germany.
Chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said the bedbank’s managing director Haim Perry will remain in his role following the £21.8 million deal which saw the group take a 75% stake in the company.
The remaining 25% of the bed bank will remain in the ownership of Perry and Hotels4U finance director Jacky Bedlow.
Fontenla-Novoa said: “It’s a business that I personally have been tracking for some time, I’m a big fan of these guys and what they’ve done, not just because of the volumes but more importantly the quality of the management teams and the quality of the technology.
“Our plan is to keep Perry Haim running it; we will not change the relationship with the trade but we want to expand Hotels4U into other markets. First of all we will go into the German (facing) market.”
“(The acquisition is) something we’ve pondered in our business. We’ve got so much going on with the integration we’re looking to expand into emerging markets. We’ve already talked about Russia, India and China (as potential future destinations).
“It’s not a reflection of the fact that we’ve not got the skills in our organisation but sometimes in certain sectors you need specialist skills and you need to focus and that’s why we’ve bought it.
“The core of our strategy is the independent sector. I wanted to accelerate that growth by buying Hotels4u.We didn’t buy it to suffocate it or integrate it.”
Perry said the bedbank had 800,000 customers last year with a turnover of £100 million and margins of 7%. Profits were £2.2 million. The bedbank is already slightly ahead of its budgeted growth of 50% this year.
He added the deal was evidence of his decision to maintain robust pricing, even when the market became heavily cost-led.
Perry said: “I’ve been accused of not coming down in pricing. We didn’t follow the trend of the last few months – we stuck to our guns and kept our margins.”
We had several choices (from potential buyers), I think we chose the best option.”
Fontenla-Novoa added Thomas Cook properties would be made available through the bedbank which would also be integrated with thomascook.com.
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