When one reviews the 98-year history of Germany’s second largest travel company, DER Touristik, one sees a growth path that is deliberate and measured. And more of the same seems to be in order following the company’s acquisition of Kuoni’s European tour operator and travel agency business. In an interview published in the German travel trade publication, FVW, Sören Hartmann, the company’s chief executive, said that the full integration of the Kuoni units—it includes nearly 40 locations in the UK alone—will take two to three years.
Hartman said that his company will begin its strategic process of integration once the acquisition is formally completed; this is expected to take place in September—following a review by the competition authorities in the UK and the affected European countries. “Then we will start intensive talks with the management and start to develop the strategy,” he told FVW.
“We want to be fast but there won’t be any harakiri,” he said. “I wouldn’t describe it as an integration in all cases. We will see where the Kuoni tour operators can use our platforms. But we can learn as well, for example from the Kuoni specialists and the travel agencies in Switzerland and the UK, which successfully sell high-value holidays.”
He indicated that DER Touristik—it is a part of the REWE group—does not want to create a centrally managed European group and will “keep what makes Kuoni strong” while seeking operational and production synergies. “Sales and brands are local and have to stay like that,” Hartman said, “we won’t force everything on to common platforms.” Hartmann suggested that the Kuoni tour operators can become more profitable within the DER Touristik operation.
Following the acquisition, Germany will remain the largest market for DER Touristik, with revenues of some $5.415 billion, including $3.756 billion in tour operating (and including Austria revenues of $276 million). Switzerland will be the second-largest market with revenues of $860 million, ahead of Scandinavia ($785 million), UK ($387 million), Eastern Europe ($321 million) and Benelux ($39 million).
(For a brief sketch-history of DER Touristik, visit: http://www.dertouristik.com/en/group/history/