Barrhead Travel has confirmed it could turn to external investors to accelerate the growth of its business both in England and globally.
Chairman Bill Munro (pictured) revealed the Scottish agency already had plans to open another five stores in major city centres in England by the end of 2016, following the success of its first store south of the border in Newcastle, but said: “With investment, we could open 10 this year.”
He revealed that Manchester, Leeds and cities on the east coast were key targets.
Munro revealed Barrhead was close to acquiring a business outside the UK in an English-speaking market, which would mark the start of its international expansion. He is also in talks with a New Zealand-based company “which is a bit bigger than us” and operates mainly in Australia, about a potential merger.
He told Travel Weekly: “We’re going into England in a major way, and expanding internationally, so an investor may speed things up.
“If someone made us an offer to take 40% equity in Barrhead Travel, and invest a ton of money and bring financial expertise, then we’d be interested. Why wouldn’t we? In an ever-changing world we need to explore all options to maintain and develop the company.”
Munro said he had received “umpteen approaches” by companies and confirmed he’d been contacted by all four of the big accountancy firms.
“We’ve listened to them all and talked to some,” he said, but insisted none had been instructed to seek an investor and confirmed no talks were currently taking place with any potential backers.
He also maintained that “Barrhead per se is not for sale”. “I am not interested in selling and Sharon [Bill Munro’s daughter and Barrhead chief executive] is similarly minded. She loves the job and people – and is still young.”
But he said: “Barrhead has done well over a number of years and some may question the need to have an investor. However, we’ve seen Iglu, On The Beach, Travel Republic and Audley Travel, among many others, all take on board investors and watched them grow very quickly as a result.”
Munro revealed Barrhead, which will sign off its 2015 accounts this week, will have doubled its profit over 2014, and said it was on track to double it again this year over 2015.
He added: “If we do agree to work with an investment company, there will be strict criteria. The staff are the most important thing as that’s what anyone is really investing in. So we have to look after our people and we need to make sure any investor is a decent outfit, a good fit and that it will not load us with too much debt.”
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