Travel House is continuing its rapid expansion plans after beating off Travelworld to acquire six-strong miniple James Travel.
It brings the number of shops in the Swansea-based travel agency chain to 39. Travel House is also expected to buy a four-branch Welsh agency this week.
Travel House, which had 22 shops when it was acquired by Thomson in May, is believed to have paid around £1m for Midlands-based James Travel, whose shops have a combined turnover of £7.5m. All staff will be retained and the chain rebranded James Travel House.
James Travel chairman Wendy Moore said:”We had talks with Travelworld but decided Travel House was a better fit.
“We were doing well but you never know what is around the corner. I just felt it was the right time to sell.”
Moore will remain as chairman of James Travel Airfares which deals in consolidated airfares, business travel, groups and conferences and specialist travel. Sue Foxall, who was a James Travel director, will remain with James TravelAirfares.
Travel Choice was also interested in the agency but pulled out when Airtours launched its hostile bid for First Choice.
Travel House managing director Martin Morgan said the acquisition will help to achieve his target of having 50 shops by the end of the year.
It has also purchased two-branch firm Cowbridge Travel, seven single-branch agencies in south and west Wales and opened a greenfield site, also in west Wales.
Morgan said further expansion is in the pipeline and has poached Miles Morgan from Going Places to head planned development in the Bristol area.
Meanwhile, Thomson is reviewing the Scotland-based Sibbald Travel brand, acquired earlier this year. UK retail development managing director Nigel Cleevely wants to create a 50-60 shop network north of the border but is not convinced Sibbald is very well known outside Edinburgh.
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