• A new, major presence in the retail sector of Spain’s travel and tourism industry is the result of a just announced agreement to merge Halcón Viajes (part of Globalia) with Avoris (part of Barceló) to generate a mega-group of retail agencies with 1,500 locations in Spain. The Globalia group brings to the venture the brands Halcón Viajes, Viajes Ecuador, Geomoon, Travelplan, Welcome, Globalia Meetings & Events, Globalia Corporate Travel and Globalia Autocares. Barceló brings B the Travel Brand, Catai Tours, Rhodasol, Bedtoyou, BCD Travels, and BCD Meetings & Events, in addition to its air division consisting of Evelop and Orbest Orizonia Airlines, among others. The new entity will have 36 brands, a staff of 6,000 employees and a turnover close to € 3.7 billion ($4.07 billion). The action comes in the wake of last month’s sale by Globalia of Air Europa to the IAG Group (British Airways, Iberia) in a $1 billion deal. The logistics of the transaction did not involve that much travel: both companies are based in Palma, which seems to be a de facto capital of the Spanish industry. Other well-known players based in Palma include Hotelbeds and preferente.com, the Spanish travel trade journal.
• After announcing last month that it was going to acquire the Holiday Land agencies and other Thomas Cook brands, DER Touristik, Germany’s second-largest tour operator, announced two weeks later that it had been unable to finalize the terms of the deal with the administrators who are overseeing the Thomas Cook bankruptcy. Ingo Burmester, CEO of DER Touristik for Central Europe, said: “We would have been delighted to provide the Holiday Land franchisees a successful and stable framework for their work under the roof of DER Touristik. However, the contractual terms that were absolutely essential for us could not be reached.” Shortly after the deal fell through, it was announced that RTK, the German travel agency cooperative network announced was taking over the franchise organization with its 360 members, including brand and system rights. Thomas Bösl, RTK managing director, said: “I’m delighted to have won this established brand for us and at the same time to be able to offer successful travel agency owners a new home in a well-known business environment.” Joint managing director Lars Helmreich added: “Cooperation with the independent travel agency owners within the strong Holiday Land family will strengthen our position as the leading sales organization on the German market.”
• In the UK, the Portman Travel Group, owner of Elegant Resorts, has acquired the trade-only tour operator If Only. The agreement means that If Only founders Brendan and Mary Maguire will retire 18 years after establishing the business. The senior sales and management team—it includes Andy Freeth, Gordon McCreadie, Tracy Docherty and David Irving—will remain with the company. Freeth said the If Only and Elegant Resorts brands will remain “distinctly separate” from one another, and there are no immediate changes planned for either business. Portman chief executive Redmond Walsh said: “I’ve known Andy for 10 years and (the brand) is an obvious fit given Portman is already in the luxury space with Elegant Resorts.”
• Nederlander National Markets LLC, one of the largest operators of theaters and music venues in the U.S., has merged with Jam Theatricals Ltd., one of the largest presenters and producers of Broadway shows in the U.S. Steve Traxler, formerly the president and chief executive of Jam Theatricals, will stay on in the new company as director of strategy and integration, overseeing subscription seasons in 26 cities. The new company will retain the Nederlander name. As part of the merger, the National Theatre Group will become a Nederlander company and will continue to operate the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.
The new Nederlander National Markets will operate under the direct leadership of Nederlander President James L. Nederlander and Nick Scandalios, executive vice president. Jam’s Traxler, co-founder, president & CEO, will continue in the new company as director of strategy and integration, overseeing the subscription seasons in 26 cities as well as the management of the National Theatre.
The Nederlander Organization owns or operates Broadway venues the Brooks Atkinson, the Nederlander, the Gershwin, the Neil Simon, the Lunt-Fontanne, the Palace, the Marquis, the Richard Rodgers and the Minskoff; and venues outside New York including Los Angeles’ Hollywood Pantages; five Chicago theaters including the James M. Nederlander; London’s Adelphi, Aldwych and Dominion; and venues in Oklahoma City, San Diego, San Jose, Tucson and several in North Carolina and South Carolina.
• Abercrombie & Kent has acquired luxury operator Cox & Kings, a competitor, for an undisclosed sum. The viability of Cox & King, which was founded in 1758 and had offices in a number of overseas locations, had begun to wane after financial difficulties effectively shut down its parent operation in India. KPMG was appointed administrator to Cox & Kings on December 4, and the acquisition agreement was announced the following day. A&K said the agreement safeguards all current and future bookings and will see “substantially all” 66 UK jobs transfer to the new owner.