HRG confirms takeover of ‘digital innovator’

HRG confirms takeover of ‘digital innovator’

Hogg Robinson Group today revealed the takeover of flight booking software firm eWings.com as the business travel group reported a rise in annual profits.

No details of the purchase price were disclosed, with the deal for the German digital innovator due to be completed in the next 15 working days.

HRG chief information officer Bill Brindle said: “eWings.com provides us with a developed solution as well as some great new technology which is highly complementary to our own proprietary technology and will fit perfectly with our platform.

“In addition to being an exciting new approach to fast and easy business travel, eWings.com gives us a speed to market advantage in the small business space and means we can accelerate our new distribution strategy across the whole market.”

The deal came as HRG reported that underlying pre-tax profits rose by 15% to £37 million in the year to March 31 as revenue went up by 5% to £335.1 million.

An increased contribution by the group’s Fraedom technology business – with profits up by 15% – came as profitability improved in the core travel management business as a result of a restructuring.

Fraedom now accounts for 10% of group revenue and 17% of underlying operating profit.

Both arms of the group will receive “targeted incremental investment” over the next three financial years as part of £25 million in operating expenditure and £13 million in additional capital spending following a strategic review.

HRG chief executive David Radcliffe said: “Against a backdrop of continuing macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty, combined with previously flagged strong competitor pricing activity, we have this year continued to expand underlying operating profit margin and deliver earnings growth.

“We have a clear strategy and a defined route to accelerate and improve performance, underpinned by our technology.

“We have already started and will continue to invest in both businesses as we deliver our strategic objectives for growth.

“Concurrent with our results statement and consistent with our growth strategy, we have today announced the acquisition of travel innovator eWings.com and we look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to the group.”

Reviewing the past 12 months, Radcliffe said: “Market conditions during the first half of the financial year remained broadly similar to the prior year, although the second half saw some deterioration as the lack of clarity around the effect of Britain’s exit from the European Union made some UK and continental European companies act more cautiously.

“As predicted, aggressive competitor pricing continued and together with the effect of the ongoing trend of clients moving to online booking, we experienced continued downward pressure on our revenue.”

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