Abta 19: Travelopia chief plans turnaround of ‘orphan asset’

The former Tui specialist holidays and activities division, now Travelopia, was an “orphan asset”, without investment and lacking “commercial acumen”, according to the man now running the group.

Travelopia chief executive Andy Duncan told Abta’s Travel Convention that the group “was not seen as a strategic asset and was left without investment.”

Tui sold Travelopia to private equity firm KKR last year for £325 million.

MoreFull coverage from Abta’s Travel Convention in Tokyo

Duncan said: “We had 50-odd businesses. What was missing was commercial acumen in the company. It was not making much money.”

Now, he said: “We want to be the world’s best experiential travel company.

“We plan to go from 53 brands to 10. We’re selling the sport and education businesses and we’ve closed some loss-making businesses.

“Some divisions just didn’t fit, for example the education business. Other brands were quite weak.

“We simplified the group. In the areas we picked we are going to put in money. All the priority brands are commercially healthy. The ones we’re selling are making money. The ones not making money we closed or merged.

“KKR is investing a lot of money. One benefit of not being listed is you can take a long-term view. With private equity, the owners want a return over six to seven years. The problem with the City is it is very impatient.”

However, Duncan warned: “We are going to have a messy situation in the UK for the foreseeable future [because of Brexit] and no deal would be very bad.

“There is also a clear possibility of a downturn in the US, so our planning assumption is it is going to remain really tough.”

MoreFull coverage from Abta’s Travel Convention in Tokyo

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