Minoan Group eyes expansion into the north

The Minoan Group is in talks to acquire two travel companies in the north of England with a view to expanding the business outside Scotland in the new year.

The plans follow news the travel and resort development group has secured a £500,000 Scottish Enterprise grant to help set up a head office in Glasgow city centre. This will open on December 19, initially employing 23 staff, and support the group’s 17 websites. At least 52 staff will eventually be employed to meet the grant’s criteria.

The group bought Ayr-based King World Travel in March and has since acquired a stake in Stewart Travel Centre and John Semple Travel. It has also struck a franchise deal with agency and a general sales agency agreement with Sunwing.

The company was still in talks with two other Scottish businesses but was focusing on the north of England, said managing director Duncan Wilson.

Discussions are taking place with one business in the northeast and one in the northwest of England, with deals due to be completed in the new year.

Wilson said: “We are buying businesses in clusters and our primary focus for the early part of next year is building a cluster in the north of England. We have an active expansion plan.”

Expansion into the Midlands and the south is likely to follow that in the north. The group aims to differentiate itself from rivals by increasing sales of exclusive products and is close to finalising a deal with operators in France, and another in India.

Turnover for the group’s Scottish businesses in its first financial year, which ended on October 31, is expected to be between £60 million and £70 million. A similar-sized business is planned in the north.

The group has also begun work on a resort in Crete but development has been on hold. “Now the Greek prime minister has resigned, we hope it will spark things back into life again,” said Wilson.

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