All Leisure Group chairman Roger Allard pledged Page & Moy Travel Group would become more trade-focused in line with his company's new strategy to drive more business from travel agents.
Following the buy-out, Allard plans to keep the “impressive” management team at Page & Moy, which is already turning the business around and targeting a profit this year.
Page & Moy Travel Group reported a £45 million loss in 2011, on a turnover of £107 million, but this was largely due to a one-off write-down; its operating loss was in fact much smaller at £5.6 million last year.
Allard was confident the group would report a profit this year and said the cost-savings that could be created from integrating the back offices of both business would help to achieve this.
Telling Travel Weekly he was “exceptionally pleased” with the deal, which he indicated was a good price at £4.2 million, given the challenging economic environment, Allard said: “We’re delighted to acquire the Page & Moy Travel Group, which includes the brands Page & Moy, Travelsphere and Just You.
“Their customer profile is an exact replica of ours. They have four million names and addresses of people like those on our database who spend the same kind of money on holidays as Page & Moy are really focusing now on long-haul tours in places like America and China, and have already started dropping a lot of their low-margin product like coach.
“All of our business is cruise, theirs is cruise and a lot of escorted tours. They have very little commitment to product which takes us away from always being committed to our own product. We can really support each other's businesses. We have a new ship coming in this year for All Discovery Cruises and the Page & Moy database will help us to fill it.”
But he said agents would also be key to the two companies’ continued growth and profitability: “We’ve already stated that we want to increase what we do through the trade with All Leisure, and nothing will change that at all. It will be the same strategy for our new Page & Moy brands.”
Allard said of the deal: “Page & Moy Travel Group was owned by the banks and they decided that travel is not the market they want to be in any more.
"We’re all aware that the banks aren’t keen on travel. We had a strong balance sheet that could support this purchase.”
Allard said he raised £5.8 million in total for the acquisition, a mixture of personal money and friends'. He added: “I think it’s very tough out there. But you do mergers and acquisitions at these times and the price you pay reflects the economic and trading conditions that are there.
“We wouldn’t have bought it if wasn’t the right price for us.” Asked what synergies would be sought, Allard said there may be “one or two people” who would leave, but said: “We are very impressed with the management team who are turning the business around and targeting a profit this year, so we don’t expect things to change.
“But you don’t do deals like this without looking for synergies like back-office integration, otherwise what would be the point of doing them?”
Allard pointed out that he had had a lot of experience integrating companies when he made many acquisition in his years at Owners Abroad and was confident he could bring the companies together successfully while retaining all the separate brands.
He would not comment on rumours that he beat Saga-owner Acromas to the deal.
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