Holidaybreak makes 150 redundancies in four months

Holidaybreak has cut around 150 jobs in the last four months to make the business as recession-proof as possible, chief executive Carl Michel has revealed.

News of the redundancies came as the group announced pre-tax profits had fallen 9% below expectations for the year ending September 30, 2008.

Michel said the staff had mostly been employed by the group’s call centres, which have been reduced in size, particularly following a steep decline in sales through its hotels division, including Superbreak.

“Superbreak was the most obvious area and we have taken some costs out of the business,” said Michel.

The group has also taken costs out of other parts of the business by, for example, merging some of its overseas offices. The Swiss camping office was shut as a result of this.

Michel said the group had now implemented most of its cost-cutting measures but added: “The area we will keep an eye on will be hotels. If it doesn’t do well we will have to look at taking more costs out there.”

Sales across the group, which also includes trade brands Keycamp and Explore Worldwide, are currently 1% up for next year. Sales for the hotel division are 15% down.

“What will be easier is that fuel prices increases are unlikely to happen so our margins will be more stable. The customers we appeal to are also more financially independent and less concerned about the impact of the recession,” he said.

He admitted the group would be looking at more value-for-money propositions to attract more budget-conscious customers to book.

He added: “We are keeping a close eye on our marketing spend. Superbreak is now coming out with messages about great rates and we have a big post-Christmas campaign for our camping business.

“But we will keep back some money for tactical marketing if we find ourselves selling well out of different overseas market and want to throw money there.”

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