Ideal Cruising may drop its membership of the Freedom Travel Group under ownership of the Lowcost Travel Group.
The cruise agency has been a member of the Freedom Travel Agents’ Consortium since it was set up nearly five years ago but is now in discussions with the group about its future.
The Lowcost Travel Group is in the final stages of buying the agency for an undisclosed sum, with the deal expected to be completed within the next fortnight. A decision on its Freedom membership is expected by the end of the month.
Ideal Cruising chairman Ian Brooks said: “Our agreement with Freedom was coming to an end anyway so our membership was up for renewal. We are now in discussions to see whether Freedom put something attractive on the table for us to stay or not. One of the advantages of the Lowcost deal is that the bonding is all sorted.”
He added: “Freedom has been very supportive of us and consortia are fantastic for small and start-up businesses. When you become established, have credibility with suppliers and volumes to negotiate a strong balance sheet then the advantages are not as great.”
The Lowcost group has also pledged further investment in the agency. Brooks revealed this would potentially allow the agency to expand into new areas such as river or luxury cruising as well as make acquisitions itself.
“There might be further consolidation opportunities in the retail sector. We are not actively looking now but once we are bedded in we will be opportunistic,” added Brooks.
The acquisition may lead to back-office efficiencies, Brooks conceded, but major changes are not expected.
Under the deal, Ideal Cruising will manage Lowcost group’s site lowcostcruising.com and will also sell product from other parts of the group. “We are keen to do more dynamic packaging going forward,” said Brooks.
The Lowcost group completed its acquisition of transfer specialist Resorthoppa last week.
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