Perhaps as a sign of things to come in the wake of a report several weeks ago that an estimated 1,800 travel companies in the UK were deemed “At Risk,” Major Travel, a tour operator and consolidator known primarily as a USA flight specialist was acquired within the past week by new ownership that announced that the company would become a 100 percent trade-only operation. Days later, it was announced that the Travel Leaders Group is had acquired UK-based Collets Travel Limited, including the latter’s prestigious Colletts Collection.
—In the matter of Major Travel, business partners Qasim Gulamhusein and Miqdaad Versi announced that they have taken an 85 percent stake in the north London firm, while existing directors Mark Widdowson and Panos Panayiotou would retain 7.5 percent each. Founder Widdowson has agreed to remain with the firm as chairman.
Major Travel will stop taking direct bookings, quickly expand its range of destinations and focus more on packages and luxury tailor-made.
New managing director Gulamhusein said the opportunity to buy Major Travel came about as he was working as a business consultant. “I thought it was a great business,” he told Travel Weekly UK. “The travel industry is quite well-regulated and very hard to get into as a new player.
—As for its acquisition of the Colletts Collection, a Travel Leaders Group statement said, “The acquisition is a concerted move designed to further enhance Travel Leaders Group’s expertise in counseling and serving affluent travelers globally. Due to its highly-valued and repeat client base, Colletts Travel will maintain its distinct brand identity within Travel Leaders UK, Travel Leaders Group’s United Kingdom operations.”
The two acquisitions come in the wake of a reports last month that some 160 tour operators are at risk of failing. Also reported at the time:
-Data from insolvency firm Begbies Traynor, 2,679 businesses in the travel industry are currently experiencing significant distress, a 10 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter and a four per cent increase vs. the same period in 2016.
-Currently, there are just under 7,000 travel agents and tour operators in the UK, and 1,800, or 26 per cent, have attracted the “warning rating” of Company Watch, a database that measures a company’s risk of insolvency.