Barrhead Travel plans to treble the number of homeworkers, managed travel agents and large retail stores it operates following its sale to US giant Travel Leaders Group.
The Scotland-based group also plans to expand into Europe following the deal, which saw chairman Bill Munro and chief executive Sharon Munro sell the entire share capital of Barrhead for an undisclosed sum.
Bill Munro said: “It’s very much a growth story – in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. We are close to being finished in Scotland but there is more opportunity.
“We have about 40-50 homeworkers and managed agencies. We are a bit behind other [organisations], but we will treble the number in the next 18 months.
“Our technology and support systems are better than anyone’s. Homeworkers see what we take and what they make, so quite a few are jumping ship and joining us.”
Barrhead has about 40 large agencies and is looking to increase this to 120 in locations with high footfall over the next three years.
Munro said Barrhead had become “known and liked” by major UK shopping centres and retail parks, and received approaches “all the time”.
“They [shopping centre operators] have realised we’re a ‘destination shop’. We bring events, entertainment and customers, so we get the best positions. Being 50 yards in the wrong direction can make a huge difference, but we get our pick,” said Munro.
He said Barrhead was close to opening its first shop in Wales this year, and was looking for a site in Dublin, following the opening of a first store in Belfast last year.
Munro said: “Travel Leaders want to use Barrhead as a platform for growth in Europe. We have a different route to market than many and there is no reason why our model wouldn’t work.
“There’s a lot going on with the new Package Travel Directive, so we are waiting on some politics and legislation but hope to make some moves this year. As long as it’s travel – corporate and leisure – we will consider it.”
Munro revealed he had been looking for an investor for about 18 months and chose Travel Leaders because it is a “people‑centric organisation”.
“There were a number of companies that contacted us but we wanted a trade sale to make sure all the jobs were safe,” he said.
“If you sell out to private equity, they want to come in, change things and sell the business on.”
Munro confirmed no earn‑out clause had been agreed as part of the deal, which is expected to complete in the first quarter.
“It is business as usual,” Munro said. “Travel Leaders have met the senior team and were impressed. They liked everything about us.”
Munro is contracted to work six months a year, while Sharon Munro and the rest of the management team will continue in their roles.
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