Hays Travel buys Bath Travel

Two of the largest independent travel agency groups have come together having agreed one of the most significant buyouts ever seen in the sector.

Hays Travel, the UK’s largest independent group, sealed the purchase of Bath Travel last night, Travel Weekly can reveal. Staff are being told of the deal this morning.

With 60 branches dotted across the south, Bath Travel is the largest travel agency chain in the region.

Outside of the big two vertically-integrated tour operators in the UK, only the fast growing Midcounties Co-op rivals the two companies for size and scale. It also has 60 branches.

No value on the deal has been made public, but Bath Travel said it turns over more than £100 million a year and employs 360 people.

It will continue as the trading name of the agencies and all staff will retain their jobs.

In a statement announcing the deal John Hays, managing director of Hays Travel, paid tribute to the Bath family.

“Throughout all of our discussions they’ve been really open, everything’s been really constructive and they’ve been really concerned that their business – which has been part of their family for over 50 years – goes to a good home. I’m really pleased that they feel that Hays Travel is a good home.

“I’d like to pay particular tribute to Mrs Elizabeth Bath. I’ve never met her personally but I’m delighted that she saw Hays Travel as a company, and an organisation, where the values of Bath Travel would be continued.

“The values of Bath Travel are of independent and knowledgeable, personal service. The Bath Travel brand is synonymous with quality and service and we will retain the brand.

“This acquisition reinforces Hays Travel’s position as the UK’s largest independent travel agent and prepares the group well for the future.”

Hays Travel was established over 30 years ago. The company has 43 retail shops as well as an independent travel agency consortium and homeworker divisions. It employs over 800 people and has an annual turnover of more than £500 million.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly as the deal was finalised last night, joint managing director of Bath Travel Andrew Bath said:

“In recent years there have been a number of businesses interested in buying Bath Travel but it wasn’t until we spoke to Hays Travel that we realised that its ethos mirrored ours and encouraged us to take things further.

“With a lack of succession planning at Bath Travel, in that the directors are all in their mid to late-50s or early 60s, we decided that in Hays Travel we had found a very safe pair of hands in which to entrust our business.

“We have brought things to a conclusion this evening and we are very happy to pass Bath Travel onto a company that will enable it to prosper and grow.”

As part of the deal all three Bath Travel board members, three Bath siblings; Andrew, Stephen and Christine, will leave the business. A fourth sibling, Sally, has never worked in the business.

However, all of the existing management team who aren’t members of the Bath family will stay in place and no redundancies are expected.

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