Cleanout of Old Regime Complete: Philippe Béchon, deputy CEO/general manager of Transat France, who was in charge of the Paris-based company’s operational team, left his post last week, completing a cleaning of the house at the French tour operator in a process that began last November, when the acquisition of Transat by TUI from its Canadian ownership formally began. TUI announced the acquisition last spring, but had to go through six months of review by various government agencies to finalize the deal.
The merger into TUI (TUI is dropping all country market names as a part of its global brand strategy, so there is no longer a TUI France), makes the operator the largest in France, which is the Number 7 overseas source market for the U.S. inbound tourism industry, sending more than 1.7 million visitors a year to the USA.
First to go was Patrice Cardec, president and CEO of the company—it also includes the popular brand, Look Voyages—who was terminated in November and replaced by Pascal de Izaguirre, who was brought to Transat from Corsair International, an airline subsidiary of TUI. Next to walk were Christian Brousse, chief financial officer and Romaric Bau, e-commerce director.
In a lengthy interview with France’s major travel trade publication, tourmag.com, Béchon said that he had hoped to stay on in his position until the fall, but health issues and other concerns prompted the ahead-of-schedule departure.
“I wanted to accompany Transat France until the end of the reorganization. (Last) November, I was convalescing. I shortened my recovery to be present as soon as possible alongside my teams,” said Béchon, adding that he felt “serene” about leaving: “This word ‘serene’ comes back naturally; really I’m not pissed off, I’m serene …”
The downsizing at the top of Transat France is only the tip of the iceberg. There are scores, possibly hundreds of other jobs at risk as TUI effects a reorganization of the former Transat brand components. The final toll could take some time to determine, as French workers and employees have many protections written into their employment agreements. As of this writing, French labor unions were involved in negotiations with TUI over the matter of employee departures and what benefits they will receive upon separation.
Citing its own sources, tourmag posted the following numbers:
—30 jobs are expected to disappear in the premises of Lyon (one third of the workforce), 30 in TUI France travel agencies, and about 60 posts are also being eliminated In the Look Voyages outlets.
—The tour-operating business will also be heavily hit with 50 posts to be eliminated, and in finance, there are 40 positions and more than 40 for the support functions and the management of information services that are targeted.
“In our opinion,” said tourmag, “the main objective of this plan (TUI’s reorganization plan) is to scrap the group’s workforce. On the social side, it is a calamity. “
At the time of the merger last December, the key numbers for TUI France and Transat were as follows:
-Turnover: € 613m ($665.5 million)
– 704,000 customers
– 12 percent market share
– No. 1 in the medium-haul markets
– 46 holiday clubs
– 717 employees (end of September 2016)
– 55 own travel agencies including 25 TUI stores
– 156 agents including 10 TUI stores.
– Turnover: € 460 million ($500 million)
– 450,000 customers
– 9 percent market share
– No. 1 in North America, Mexico, Ireland, Senegal, Bulgaria
– 40 holiday clubs
– 582 employees (staff at the end of September 2016 excluding clubs)
– 42 own travel agencies
– 17 franchisees.