Stewart Travel owner Minoan Group expects to confirm the sale of its travel and leisure division in the near future.

The disclosure came after the loss-making Scottish company received an offer from an undisclosed suitor for the division before Christmas.

The planned disposal will enable the group to pay down debt and enable Minoan to concentrate on developing a resort complex on Crete with potential joint venture partners.

Minoan today reported an increased operating profit of £563,000 for the travel and leisure arm for the 12 months to October 2017, up from £272,000 in the previous 12 months.

This came as total transaction value rose by 18% to £80 million.

But group after tax losses increased from £2.2 million to £2.5 million and loans increased by more than £1 million to £6.1 million.

Minoan chairman Christopher Egleton said the decision to sell the travel business “has not been taken lightly”.

He said: “The two main drivers of this decision have been the fact that we were unable to expand the business as fast as we had intended for fear of diluting the group’s capital unnecessarily and, with the advent of the grant of outline planning consent in Greece, the need to concentrate our efforts on creating value without a significant debt overhang with its concomitant costs.

“I very much hope we will be able to report in more detail on this transaction in the near future.”

The company reported increases in Lapland trips business, although the rate of growth in cruise sales was slowed by difficulties in the Caribbean following hurricane devastation to Puerto Rico and a number of other islands.

“Since the year end, travel has continued on its upward trajectory,” Egleton said. “In the first quarter of the financial year ending 2018, total transaction value is up 14% and gross profit up close to 9%, the variations in increase once again being due to Caribbean cruise sales which, until recently, have been among our most profitable.”

He added: “Following the expected sale of the travel and leisure division, which I hope to be announcing the completion of in the near future, I and my colleagues will be concentrating our efforts on optimising the value of the group’s project in Crete for the benefit of all shareholders.”