WTM 2019: Travel Leaders considers further UK acquisitions

US travel giant Travel Leaders Group insists it will continue its acquisition strategy in the UK if “the right opportunity” presents itself, but said its immediate focus was on organic growth through Barrhead Travel in the wake of the Thomas Cook collapse.

Ninan Chacko, chief executive, said: “We started to turn the dial up on our acquisitions in the UK three to four years ago and have been somewhat opportunistic, but we absolutely expect to continue our acquisition strategy.

“Organic growth is occupying the majority of our bandwidth but there are distinct opportunities to be had and if an attractive opportunity arose we would take a long hard look at it.”

MoreWTM 2019: Full coverage from this year’s event

Speaking at WTM, Chacko said a recent focus for Travel Leaders had been investment in a single financial infrastructure for its brands, a move he said would deliver sizeable benefits.

But he said he remained confident in the UK market and saw value in further extending the group’s UK presence, which currently includes Barrhead Travel, Colletts Travel, Altour, Tzell and Protravel in addition to Mice brand YES.

While declining to specify the type of business which would appeal, Chacko said Travel Leaders would want to build on areas of strength for its US brands, including cruise.

Another focus will be increasing sales of premium products through mainstream brands to improve profitability.

Citing the growth of river cruise sales in North America, Chacko added: “We know our core product, but we will judiciously identify how we can develop more of an appetite for premium product within this market.

“We have significant knowledge of selling luxury product, and it is not just about price point, it is about taking the opportunity to shape an experience for the customer.”

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