Swiss parent company puts Hotelplan Group up for sale

Hotelplan has been put up for sale by Swiss parent Migros as the group looks to refocus on its core retail, financial services and health businesses in Switzerland.

Migros has said the sale will “take some time” and has reassured staff and customers that “no significant changes are expected” during the sale process.

The Hotelplan Group includes Switzerland’s largest travel company, Hotelplan Suisse, and Hotelplan UK which owns specialist operators Inghams and Explore, ski operator Esprit, Santa’s Lapland and Inntravel.

The group also comprises holiday rental specialist Interhome and travel management companies Finass Reisen and BTA First Travel.

Parent company Migros is a major retail and financial services co-operative in Switzerland with a turnover of more than £34 billion in the 12 months to October 2023.

It announced plans to seek buyers for the Hotelplan Group and for an unrelated personal care business, Mibelle, in a group restructure confirmed on February 2, saying it would use the proceeds to invest in its retail and online businesses.

The group pledged “to look for suitable buyers carefully”, noting: “We are specifically seeking new owners who have a strong foundation for successfully developing the companies.”

In a statement, Migros insisted: “The activities of these companies will continue as before. Nothing will change for customers and business partners.

“All business and brands continue to run reliably. Migros guarantees this.”

Of Hotelplan, the company noted: “The travel business has shifted towards very large international or specialised travel companies, where size matters.

“The Hotelplan Group is the largest travel company in Switzerland, but is comparatively small in global terms and synergies with the Migros Group’s core business are limited.”

The group added: “Hotelplan achieved record results in 2022 and 2023. However, Migros sees greater development opportunities for the company with a new owner.”

It insisted: “Migros will carry out the divestment processes prudently and carefully. These will therefore take some time, particularly at Hotelplan Group.”

The company reassured staff: “No significant changes are expected for the employees of the companies concerned during the divestment process.”

However, it announced the loss of up to 1,500 full-time jobs across the wider Migros group as a consequence of the restructuring while pledging “to avoid layoffs wherever possible”.

Hotelplan UK is headed by chief executive Joe Ponte, and the Hotelplan Group by chief executive Laura Meyer.

In annual results for the 12 months to October 2023 published last week, Hotelplan reported group turnover close to CHF1.7 billion (£1.6 billion).

It noted “a strong performance” and “higher revenues” at Hotelplan UK with annual revenue of £212 million, up from £151 million the previous year.

Migros is expected to seek a buyer for the entire Hotelplan Group rather than sell off its travel businesses separately.

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