Barrhead Travel has announced profits leapt 66% last year as it confirmed it has asked BDO to seek new investment for future growth.

The leading Scottish travel agency said it saw “another successful year” to December 31, 2015, with gross turnover up £21 million to £267 million and profits up by 66%.

Travel Weekly revealed in May Barrhead was considering looking for external investors to support expansion plans south of the border although it said the company was not for sale.

The timing of its full-year trading announcement, more than a month earlier than last year, and the appointment of BDO indicates the process to find new investment is well underway.

As of this morning the firm’s 2015 accounts had not yet been posted on Companies House. However, in a statement, Barrhead said growth last year was down to “investment in technology, recent shop openings now maturing, long-haul and cruise sales increasing, alongside improvements to websites”.

Chief executive Sharon Munro said: “I am delighted with our results especially in what was a difficult trading year.

“We have exciting plans for the rest of the year with the introduction of virtual reality headsets into our stores which will allow our customers to view hotel public areas and bedrooms along with destination experiences before they book.

“We are also about to launch a new online customer portal providing customers with a secure online space which allows the Barrhead team to deliver a very personalised and unique service from start to finish.”

During the course of last year, Barrhead opened a flagship store in Eldon Square Newcastle, its first shop in England, and it has since revealed it is eyeing store opening opportunities as far south as Bristol and Southampton.

The firm said it is targeting two more store openings south of the border this year with further expansion plans for more shops across the UK during 2017 plus investment in product specialists within its call centre operations.

Barrhead said BDO had been brought in to select a suitable partner to help with its expansion plans and vendor due diligence had already been completed.

A BDO spokesman said: “We are very excited about working with Barrhead to secure investment for the next stage of its growth.

“The business is the UK’s leading independent multi-channel travel retailer and has grown phenomenally quickly in recent years based on providing superb customer service to an affluent customer base.

“It also has a strong cruise agency business and is a growing dynamic packaging tour operator. We are confident of achieving an excellent result.”

Barrhead said: “The business is already well recognised for having a successful and different route to market with quality customer service and as already proven in the past that their business model is resilient and will expand during the potentially turbulent times ahead when other businesses may retreat.

“Barrhead Travel continues to perform well in this current year, with increased passenger numbers and achieving a remarkably high level of repeat business at 47%.”

Barrhead will launch its own dedicated hi-tech training academy in September located in “state-of-the-art” premises in Glasgow city centre.