Midcounties Co-operative Travel has laid claim to be the UK’s “biggest and best” independent travel co-operative, a year on from the joint venture of The Co-operative Travel and Thomas Cook.
Group general manager Alistair Rowland said Midcounties was “exactly on track” to hit its targets a year into a three-year growth plan after its decision to remain independent.
As the group begins a trial of its web address Cooptravel.co.uk as the name of its shops, Rowland said: “We are creating the biggest and best travel co-operative in the UK and aim to be the largest independent travel business.”
The group has 51 shops, 100 homeworkers, a consortium with a £50 million turnover and a web business that turns over £15 million. By the end of its three-year plan it aims to have 80 to 100 shops, 200 homeworkers, a consortium with a £100 million turnover and a £30 million online business. Half of the group’s turnover is expected to come from its shops.
The new shopfronts, which if successful will see the demise of The Co-operative Travel brand on its shops, will allow the group to “stand alone without being in anyone’s shadow”.
Rowland added: “We are not scared to promote the web on our shops, or the shops on our website.”
All the shops will also be refurbished internally as part of the three-year plan and will look “completely different”.
Rowland credited the support of tour operators as a large factor in the group’s successful growth to date. “We didn’t think we would get anything like the support we did. We wanted to replicate the terms of the Co-operative Travel Trading Group (CTTG) and in the main this is what we achieved,” he admitted.
The four divisions of the business – retail, homeworking, online and the consortium – mirror the structure of The Co-operative Travel, where many of the group’s senior executives worked previously. “To build the group, these were fundamental,” said Rowland.
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