Midcounties to fund Co-op branded start-up and franchise shops

Midcounties to fund Co-op branded start-up and franchise shops

Midcounties Co-operative Travel has announced plans to fund Co-op branded travel start-ups and franchise shops as it looks to increase revenue to £370m in the next three years.

The group also hopes to begin offering corporate and business travel through its homeworkers who are ‘queuing up’ to book their clients.

Group general manager for travel, Alistair Rowland said: “We want to hear from travel start-ups, whether that be agencies, tour operators, suppliers - any travel business. We will support and fund them as Co-operatives.

“We’re also looking for potential owners who could work with us on a franchise basis of the Co-operative Travel brand.”

Rowland said these plans “felt like the next natural stage” for the business. Both nationwide trials will go live next year.

Addressing members of Midcounties Co-operative Consortium at their annual conference in Manchester on Tuesday, Rowland said he firmly “believes in the future of shops”, later adding: “If you’ve got the right people and a good history, the power of shops is still there.”

He said there is still a “significant opportunity” ahead to grow in all channels to market.

Head of Midcounties Co-operative Travel Consortium, Alison Holmes, said they had welcomed 11 new members this year, including Vertical Group’s homeworking agency, Your Holiday Booking, which announced in October it was leaving the Freedom Travel Group.

Total membership now stands at 37. “We want to continue to grow but at the appropriate pace,” Holmes said. “We’re only interested in quality not quantity.”

She said they are aiming to grow the consortium side of the business by 20% next year.

Commenting on the joint venture between Thomas Cook and Co-op Travel which is due to end next autumn, Rowland said: “We hope to keep the dialogue open with any opportunities that become available.”

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