Cunard and P&O Cruises will split its sales team into separate organisations from next year in what the company describes as an “evolution” of its current operation under a multi-brand Partnership Team.

The combined Cunard and P&O Cruises sales structure is to be split into two dedicated teams by next summer.

A new Cunard UK sales director is to be recruited and the overall headcount will be “significantly” increased, according to parent company Carnival UK without detailing the extra numbers.

The aim is to strengthen links with the travel trade and “solidify brand distinction”.

All roles within the existing organisation will assume responsibility for P&O Cruises with the exclusion of those dedicated to Cunard, the company said.

The current sales organisation will remain under the leadership of Carnival UK vice president of sales Alex White until the structural changes are finalised by the middle of 2018.

White will then assume the role of vice president of sales and distribution for P&O Cruises and will continue to report the brand’s senior vice president Paul Ludlow.

A new sales organisation is being established for Cunard under the leadership of David Rousham, currently the line’s international development vice president.

Rousham will assume the expanded role of vice president of UK sales and international development for Cunard, and will continue to report senior vice president Simon Palethorpe.

Recruitment will begin immediately for a new Cunard UK sales director who will establish the team and manage the transition.

White told agents in a letter: “Since establishing our new multi-brand sales team in 2016, together we have enjoyed two record sales years for our brands.

“P&O Cruises will welcome the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market to its fleet in 2020.

“As we enter this period of unprecedented growth it is critical that we recognise the distinct requirements and nature of each brand and offer an appropriate level of individual support to each of our agent partners who will continue to play a vital role for our brands.

“It is for this reason that we are announcing the introduction of individual sales teams for Cunard and P&O Cruises, which collectively represents a significant increase in dedicated resource.”

Rousham added: “This is an evolution of the sales organisation and underpins the need for distinct sales requirements for each of the two brands.

“Getting the right guest on the right brand is vital to meet future sales needs and we are committed to making further investment to meet and grow the new to cruise audience through improved support for our valued trade partners.”

The Partnership Team name will continue to exist but will be known as the Cunard Partnership Team and the P&O Cruises Partnership Team.