Independent agents have urged Kuoni’s new German owner to retain its strong relationships with third-party retailers.
Kuoni Group’s tour operating business was sold this week to Rewe Group, parent of travel group Der Touristik, for an undisclosed sum.
The takeover includes the entire Kuoni UK group and tour operations in Switzerland, Scandinavia and the Benelux region, which employ 2,350 staff and generated turnover of CHF2 billion (£1.36bn) last year.
The UK group includes the Kuoni tour operating brand, 34 Kuoni-branded stores and John Lewis concessions, and specialist brands Carrier, CV Villas, Kirker Holidays and Voyages Jules Verne.
They will be run as part of the Der Touristik travel division under their existing brands.
Nick Harding-McKay, managing director of Travel Designers, a Kuoni Premium Light store, said: “As long as they leave the UK management team in place, it’s irrelevant who owns it. The main thing for me is continuity.”
Paul Dale, head of specialist businesses at Central England Co-operative, said he would like to see Kuoni continue to work closely with independents.
“It’s an evolving relationship and perfect for us,” said Dale, whose 21 stores sell Kuoni as a preferred supplier.
Danny Wooller, director of Kuoni Select store Dreamtime Travel, added: “I’d be disappointed if the owners take issue with how things currently work.”
Peter Giles, owner of Kuoni partner store World Market Travel in Bath, said: “If the owners don’t want specialist agents, it would not be the end of the world, but it’s highly unlikely, and I’d prefer that not to happen.”
Travel Bureau co-owner Jeanne Lally said: “I don’t think it’s bad news.”
The acquisition positions Der Touristik as a leading pan-European travel company and gives it new competitive advantages in the beach holidays market and in international flight and hotel purchasing, a statement said.
The acquisition is subject to approval by competition authorities.
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