The Minnesota-headquartered Travel Leaders Group, has acquired Barrhead Travel, the Glasgow-based travel agency which is one of the UK’s biggest retail travel firms. The Travel Leaders Group, according to last year’s Travel Weeky USA Power List of the top ($100 million or more in annual business) travel agencies operating in the U.S., ranked 9th, with sales for the previous year totaling $4.39 billion and 8,360 employees. Travel Leaders has some 7,000 owned, franchised or affiliated agencies.
Founded in 1975, the Barrhead Travel Group grew from a single high street shop to a travel giant with 900 employees across 61 UK outlets, including travel agencies, business travel offices and contact centers. The company says on its website that it is the UK’s leading independent travel group, booking more than 300,000 people on holidays each year. It emphasized that point that “it is proud of its relationship with the world’s leading tour operators.”
The acquisition came as a surprise in the tour and travel industry in the UK, as it had been expanding beyond its base in Scotland and into all parts of the UK. However, in 2016, Barrhead did appoint the accounting and financial counseling firm BDO to help it seek new investments for future growth. At the time, it had said the company was not for sale but was looking for financial backing to expand in England and globally. At the time, it had said the company was not for sale but was looking for financial backing to expand in England and globally.
Bill Munro, Barrhead’s founder and Chairman, and his daughter, Sharon Munro, chief executive, will maintain their roles in the company. No major changes in operations were anticipated, said Barrhead.
Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko said: “Barrhead is a great addition to our family of brands. It’s an innovative, award-winning travel business that is on a trajectory for continued growth.
“Bill and Sharon Munro have devoted their careers to building this extraordinary business. We’re pleased that the Munro family is entrusting the future of Barrhead, its employees, agents and customers to our organization. We’re excited about this chance to expand our presence in Scotland and the UK overall and the opportunities this affords both companies.”