Wendy Wu Tours plans to break even next year and thinks business will “bounce back to 2019 levels” in 2022.

The Asia specialist then expects to see 15% growth per annum right through to 2025.

The predictions were made by Glen Mintrim, who started in his new role as global chief executive yesterday (December 1), following a promotion from managing director of the business he joined in July last year.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, he said: “This year, we will lose money for the first time in the company’s history, but why would we make any money when we’ve not had any customers? We’re not magicians, right?

“But next year, our plan is to break even globally. Travel will still be down, I am guessing about 50% on what we had in 2019, because it may be that we can’t get people to travel for the first six months of 2021. But that said, at the moment, we are ahead of where we set our budgets for next year. Our expectations are better than we thought.”

He added: “For 2022, we’re expecting that to bounce back to 2019 levels. 2022 is already showing huge growth for us but that’s off a small base; we must remember that. We have still got a long way to go. But 2022 is actually looking very positive for us. And beyond that, we expect the plans to build up 15% growth per annum, right the way through to 2025, bringing us back to our original plans for 2019.”

Mintrim concluded: “2021 and 2022 will be about recovery. 2023, 2024 and 2025 will be about growth.”

He said the company’s recovery would be driven by Asia bookings.

“We are very good at what we do. We’re an Asia specialist and we do it very, very well. I don’t think we’re anywhere near the top of the mountain yet on that. So our focus is definitely as an Asia specialist. We’re unique in what we do. We know everything. We know every little nook and cranny in Asia and we know it better than anybody else in the travel industry, for sure. So we will continue to see our big growth coming from those areas,” said Mintrim.

He noted the operator’s “established” tours in other markets, such as the Middle East, central Asia, and Latin America, adding: “They will steadily grow, but our big growth will still come from the Asia pot. That’s definitely our area focus on the next five years.”

Mintrim said the company’s recovery would be helped by having cut its cost base “significantly” during the pandemic. It halved its teams in both the UK and Australia, from about 70 to 35 employees.

“Our team is around about 50% lighter than it was, and our cost base is very lean,” he said. “We’ve never been as lean as we are now. Like most businesses, we’ve had to change. We haven’t had any choice. If you’d have just stood there and done nothing, you’d be in trouble.

“Even though the government support schemes are there, as every business knows, it does cost money. It is not free for the company. So we had to make decisions that actually help the business and sustain the business and make sure everybody that is still around has a sustainable future.”

Mintrim said that, because of the cost-cutting Wendy Wu Tours would reach “very sustainable” profitability “if we hit 2022 at 2019 levels”, which would mean “we’ll be able to reinvest in our people, reinvest in the trade and reinvest in the business”.

He added: “We’re not cashing out, it’s about reinvestment all the time.”