Mark Warner hails 'resilient year' despite challenges

Mark Warner hails 'resilient year' despite challenges

Mark Warner has had a “resilient year”, making a similar profit to the previous 12 months, despite the challenges of the Greek economy, migrant crisis and terror threats.

New head of sales and marketing Ben Roseveare, who joined the activity resort operator from adventure operator Intrepid in September, said:

“We will make between £100,000 and £200,000 profit, which is a similar figure to last year [Mark Warner made a pre-tax profit of £106,000 on sales of £42.4 million for the 12 months to October 31, 2014].

“Given that four of our resorts are in Greece and one in Turkey, our owners are very proud of the team’s performance. No one is running around the building high-fiving each other, but we’re in the black and that shows that customers have supported us.”

He said 50% of the company’s business over the summer had been to Greece and added that its flagship resort of Levante had actually had a record year, accounting for 25%.

The resort of Lakitira in Kos had maintained its numbers, “despite being at the forefront of the refugee crisis, which is amazing really”, Roseveare said.

But ski for 2015-16 was “quite concerning”, with sales “a double-digit problem”. Roseveare said skiers were put off travelling pre-Christmas after there was no snow last year. “December is a real issue. But the trade’s ski sales are actually 3% up and we want to remind agents they can sell ski holidays up to 3pm the day before travel, so we’re hoping to see a huge surge once the snow comes [there was a snowfall last week].”

Roseveare said 2016 would be a year of improving efficiencies on existing products, but said it would add two new hosted ski chalets and a new summer resort for 2017. He admitted that the Sea Garden Beach Resort in Turkey, despite being 500 miles from Syria, had “struggled” and Mark Warner would be reducing its commitment there in 2016 by chartering a smaller aircraft.

Roseveare believes agents can double their Mark Warner sales from £10 million at present – a quarter of its bookings – to £20 million over the next few years.

“Off-peak there is a real opportunity with our partners. We think we can grow the trade business by finding more high street agents to start selling us.

“After hosting the Advantage conference in Bodrum and two Advantage fam trips either side to Rhodes and Kos, our business through Advantage went up 22% year on year for summer 2015. So it can be done,” said Roseveare.

New software from Multicom has enabled Mark Warner to dynamically package its holidays with scheduled regional flights in addition to its charter flight programme, meaning it will now be able to target sales from regional airports.

Julie Franklin, Mark Warner’s agency sales manager, said: “I’ve never bothered with Scotland before as we have no flights, but now we will, so it’s going to open up so much more opportunity.”

Mark Warner is to capitalise on the huge growth in road cycling by offering intensive cycling weeks at its Levante and Corsica resorts next summer. Both resorts will be equipped with 20 carbon Cannondale road bikes. Cyclists will be offered guided tours and expert advice. Also new for 2016 are yoga retreats in Corsica and football coaching ahead of Euro 2016.

Mark Warner has revamped its brand and logo with softer colours, fonts and style guides to give a more premium look and feel, plus introduced the strapline ‘Every Moment Matters’. New brochures will be out next month.

Roseveare said: “We are in a competitive market space and we realise we’ve become a little too price-led in our promotions. We want to return to celebrating our key values, which are our award-winning childcare, relaxed and welcoming resorts, and expert British sports instruction.”

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