Barrhead Travel profits fell to £1 million last year despite 6.6% growth in revenue to £320 million from £300 million in 2017.
The profit decline came as the agency group opened three new branches, upgraded its website and technology and accelerated training for more than 800 employees.
The company said its profits, which dropped from £2.9m in 2017, were also impaired by EU changes in credit card regulations, in line with the rest of the travel industry.
Solo holidays, adventure travel, cruise and touring all showed sales increases in 2018 and this trend looked set to grow further in the next year.
The group started the year with forward bookings for 2019 up 7% year-on-year.
President Jacqueline Dobson described the 2018 sales increase as a “healthy, positive performance ahead of the market” driven by the expansion and refurbishment of the branch network coupled with the development of new franchises – Managed Service Travel Partners – under the Brilliant Travel brand.
Commenting on the failure of Thomas Cook, Dobson said that their imminent priorities were to look after customers affected.
“The news about Thomas Cook’s collapse was really sad – especially for all their employees and for those whose holidays have been impacted. Our team have been working round the clock since 2am on Monday morning to make alternative arrangements for our customers.
“There are also a number of vacancies across our branch network – including homeworking opportunities – and we’re trying to help as many former Thomas Cook employees get back into work as soon as possible.”
Dobson was appointed to the top job in January after last year’s take over by the US-based Travel Leaders Group.
The rise in revenue last year was a “healthy, positive performance ahead of the market; one that shows our customers trust us with their holiday dreams,” she said.
“We significantly re-invested back into the business during 2018 and we will continue to invest and evolve to adapt to the changing demands of customers.”
Dobson added: “Expansion is on the horizon for Barrhead Travel and we are working hard to continually enhance the customer journey for our holidaymakers.
“We have plans to invest further in our online experience as well as a commitment to reinvesting in bricks and mortar by integrating state-of-the-art technology into our retail stores.
“Our stores are diversifying to meet the demands of holidaymakers and we aim to inject as much excitement into the booking process as the holiday itself.
“For example, we recently launched our Universal Orlando Resort Holiday Booking Lounge in our Glasgow superstore which has a virtual reality roller-coaster experience as part of the design.”
Barrhead Travel invested in a new management development programme last year with 50 staff starting a course with the Chartered Management Institute.
Dobson said: “Drawing on the resources and experience of Travel Leaders Group, we are confident we have the scale and the talent to consistently grow.
“Our customers are still at the heart of everything we do and we are committed to ensuring we always provide unforgettable experiences at value-for-money prices.”
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