Ex-Tesco UK boss checks in at Travel Counsellors

The former UK boss of Tesco has been named the non-executive chairman of Travel Counsellors.

Matt Davies has been responsible for the success of retail consumer brands including Pets at Home and Halfords.

He was appointed CEO of Tesco’s UK business in 2015 and was integral to the firm’s recent turnaround, culminating in the completion of a £3.7bn takeover of wholesaler Booker Group earlier this year.

Having left Tesco following the completion of the transaction, he became one of the FTSE 350’s youngest chairman after being named chair of online retailer N Brown in February.

The appointment comes as Travel Counsellors revealed its 12th consecutive year of double-digit revenue growth, with average annual turnover growth of 18% over the past five years.

Total turnover for the business rose to £217 million in the year to October 31, 2017, up 15% on the £188 million in the previous year.

The company reported a 12% rise in total bookings in the first half of the current financial year to £328 million, meaning total sales this year are on track to reach at least £600 million.

The company completed a secondary buyout backed by Vitruvian Partners in June. The transaction, which resulted in an exit for Equistone Partners Europe, will see the business continue to invest heavily in its in-house technology platforms, with more than £6 million set aside to spend on IT developments and upgrades in 2018.

Founded in Manchester in 1994, Travel Counsellors claims more than 450,000 customers a year. The company acts as a platform for its franchisees, with more than 1,800 self-employed Travel Counsellors working from home supported by a 300-strong global team.

Chief executive Steve Byrne said: “Over the course of his career, Matt has had a transformational impact on the retail sector, creating new standards of quality and building household names.

“This track record, combined with his commitment to customer service and passion for putting people at the heart of a business, makes him the ideal non-executive chairman for Travel Counsellors.

“We will continue to focus on attracting, developing and building a team of the very best talent to enable the company to scale, alongside the development of our technology platform to operate on a much bigger stage.

“Matt’s guidance, knowledge and experience will prove invaluable on this journey, as we strive to improve the level of service provided to both our franchisees and customers.”

Davies said: “I’m delighted to be joining Travel Counsellors as chairman and I’m really looking forward to supporting Steve and the team in delivering world class travel experiences to customers across the globe.

“I have never met a team with such passion, energy and commitment to delivering for their customers and as obsessive about putting its people and customers at the epicentre of everything it does.”

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