Brexit uncertainty left overall travel sector trading down 10% in the run-in to the delayed March 29 EU exit date with cautious consumers holding off making holiday plans in the peak booking period.

The estimate came today from the boss of On the Beach as the company reported winter half-year results.

However, chief executive Simon Cooper revealed that the online holiday firm will continue to look at opportunities to boost its market share.

He was speaking as the company delivered a 12% rise in  pre-tax profits to £11.9 million as revenue rose by 41% to £63.5 million in the six months to March 31.

Cooper described the performance as “solid” for the period, “despite continuing uncertainties around Brexit, with modest booking and revenue growth supported by the ongoing benefits of improved marketing efficiency”.

He said: “This performance has been delivered against a soft background market, particularly in the important first calendar quarter, when uncertainties regarding Brexit impacted consumer appetite for booking holidays.

“Independent market data shows that a significant proportion of consumers deferred their holiday purchase in the run up to the 29 March deadline and our understanding is that the background market has been trading down 10% year-on-year in 2019.

“Looking forward, we continue to remain cautious of the consumer environment until a Brexit resolution is found, but the resilient and flexible nature of our business model allows us to focus on profitable growth and gives us confidence in the group’s outlook.

“We will continue to evaluate opportunities to enhance our market share position.”

On the Beach acquired specialist operator Classic Collection Holidays for £20 million last August and launched an agent-only booking portal in March at a cost of £500,000.

Cooper said: “There were a number of exciting operational developments in the first half including the launch of Classic Package Holidays, providing a platform for travel agencies to book mainstream beach holidays; the integration of both Emirates and British Airways onto our platform to expand our long haul offering; and we completed our move to the group’s new digital HQ in Manchester together with the expansion of our operational HQ in Cheadle.”

MoreOn the Beach boss voices Brexit caution

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