The Midcounties Co-operative’s retail travel business is set to enjoy its most profitable year for at least a decade and is in business “for the long term”, according to chief executive Ben Reid.

Speaking at the annual conference of the group’s personal travel agents (The PTAs) in Torremolinos, Reid told the group’s homeworking division that the society was in a strong position financially to survive the future.

Turnover of between £1.3 billion and£ 1.4 billion is forecast for the financial year ending January 31, 2015, with profits predicted to hit £17 million.

He said: “We are the largest independent co-operative society (in the UK). We (the retail travel business) will have our most profitable year since we sold Holiday Hypermarkets about 10 years ago.

“That gives us the strength to say we are in it for the long term – you can trust us to be here for a long time. The business we are creating is sustainable.”

He reassured agents the society could weather any storm created by industry failures.

“There are so many ‘puffed up’ businesses in travel that live off cash flow and get caught out: whatever happens out there in the industry we can take it.”

Referring specifically to the future of The PTAs, he hinted at growth opportunities for the homeworking group when rivals drop out of the market.

“We know some of our competitors will not be there in the long term and in the next few years we will be able to fill a big space in the homeworking business. This might be a new sector for us but we really like it and we will move to fill any void and have the resources to do that.”

Reid urged homeworkers in the group to help shape the future of The PTAs, adding: “As the space in front of us opens up, I think there is a huge opportunity for our version of homeworking to develop.”