The new owners of Kuoni UK will back its approach to retail and increase investment in the business, according to UK boss Derek Jones (pictured).
“We see eye to eye on a lot,” he said. “They love what we are doing with retail because they are retailers at heart.”
The sale of Kuoni’s tour operating activities, including the UK business, to German group Rewe gained approval from European competition authorities this week.
The group originally announced its intention to sell its tour operations in January.All Kuoni’s European tour operators, agencies and online portals are being transferred to Rewe’s travel division, DER Touristik, but each will retain their brands.
Jones, managing director of Kuoni UK, said the sale would “accelerate further investment” in the business and could entail revisiting opportunities not pursued by the former owners.
He said: “It’s early days but the response [from the new owners] has been positive. We still need to decide what direction we want to move in and we will have to revisit some opportunities.
“We will see what opportunities present themselves and we will do that relatively quickly. They have bought into our current strategy and will invest in it.”
Throwing his weight behind Jones’s comments, DER Touristik Group chief executive Sören Hartmann said: “We want to use our experience and our creativity, to advance our business and the industry.
“Exchanging ideas and know-how between all units will be an inspiring think-tank. What prospers here, is a European network of travel experts.”
The UK business is likely to benefit from the German group’s digital technology investment and its global destination management companies but, Jones stressed, will remain independent.
DER Touristik has more than 1,000 travel agencies in Germany and 600 retail franchises. The expanded DER Touristik division will have a combined revenue of €7 billion and 7.7 million customers, with operations in 14 European countries.
Jones insisted Kuoni UK was in “really good shape”, adding that its 34 own shops, including 10 John Lewis concessions, are profitable and its tour operation “has not lost market share in the last five years”.
New stores are due to open at Lakeside shopping centre and in Brighton, Harrogate and Birmingham [in John Lewis].
Jeanne Lally, commercial director of Travel Bureau, a Kuoni partner store, said she was not concerned about the sale but added: “Kuoni needs to invest in technology.”
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