Thomas Cook Group today reported trading in line with management expectations with summer 2015 more than 50% sold.
The UK business continues to trade ahead of last year, with “significant bookings growth” resulting from “robust demand” particularly for winter sun holidays – the winter 2014/15 season is now almost fully sold.
Bookings via thomascook.com are up by 10% compared to last year, “reflecting a continued progress in the group’s digital initiatives”.
Mobile and tablet bookings are up 63% and conversion on these devices up 39%. These bookings now represent one third of the total, up from around 20% last year, with bookings made on desktop computers making up the remainder.
Demand for holidays to the company’s Concept Hotels is growing, with bookings up by 20% year-on-year.
UK bookings for the summer are 4% higher than last year, in a continuing robust trading environment, Cook said in a trading update this morning.
However, average selling prices are 1% lower overall due to an increased proportion of seat-only sales.
Looking forward, Cook said: “Although conditions remain tough in many of our markets, with pricing pressures caused by excess airline capacity and intense competition, trading in Continental Europe and Northern Europe is improving while the UK business continues to perform well.
“We are confident that our strategy of profitable growth through our new product and digital initiatives, supported by cost efficiencies, will lead to further improvements in business performance.
“We therefore continue to expect further growth in full year 2015, consistent with our expectations at our full year results in November, on a constant currency basis.”
Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said: “Our bookings for the full year are developing well, especially in the UK and Airlines Germany.
“The tough trading conditions we reported previously in some markets are showing early signs of improvement, and our new product and winter sun initiatives are leading to growth.
“I am confident that, by continuing to rigorously implement our strategy, we will further improve business performance.”
Lewis Sturdy, dealer at London Capital Group, said: “Trading in line with expectations will be seen as a sound result given the currency headwinds and a slow-to-recover European economy still buffeting the travel operator.
“Strong group forward sales of summer 2015, up 2% on a year ago with 54% sold, has helped the travel group overcome a UK performance where total forward bookings and prices are still down 1% on last year.
“The growth in online bookings and within that a surge in bookings via mobile and tablets point to a turnaround strategy under former CEO Harriet Green that may leave a sustainable legacy.”
The group’s results for the six months to March 31 are due to be published on May 20 and third quarter results on July 30.
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