Kuoni poised to make its US debut

Kuoni poised to make its US debut

KUONI is poised to roll out its product in the US after buying the upmarket Missouri-based operator Intrav for $115m.

Executive vice-president Peter Diethelm said the purchase, which is set to be completed by September 30, would be used as Kuoni's springboard into the outbound US market. Until now, the company's US operations have been limited to an incoming sales office in Atlanta.

Intrav offers voyages on the four ships operated by its cruise company Clipper Cruise Lines, escorted tours to long-haul destinations, and a private jet programme for its holidaycustomers.

It reported a turnover of $126m and a pre-tax profit of $10.3m for 1998. Passenger volumes of 25,000 are low, but customers spend an average of $5,000 a head, according to Diethelm. He expects the operator's business to double within the next three years, once Kuoni's product has been rolled out alongside Intrav's.

"We had a clear target that we wanted to be in the US but we had to wait for the right opportunity," said Diethelm.

He said the deal would have gone ahead even if Kuoni's planned tie-up First Choice had succeeded.


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