Sunderland-based Hays Travel, the UK's largest independent travel agent, has completed the acquisition of Bath Travel, the largest independent travel agent in the south of England.
Bournemouth-based Bath Travel has 60 branches and employs 360 people with annual sales in excess of £100 million.
Bath Travel, which was founded in 1924 by Reginald Bath, the grandfather of the currenct owners, will continue as the trading name of the agencies and all staff will remain in their jobs, said Hays.
However the current owners, Andrew, Christine and Stephen Bath will leave the business after selling their shares to Hays Travel. Another family member, Sallie, who never worked in the family business, has also sold her shares.
John Hays said: "I'd like to pay tribute to the Bath family. Throughout all of our discussions they've been really open, everything's been really constructive and they've been really concerned that their business - which has been part of their family for over 50 years - goes to a good home.
"I'm really pleased that they feel that Hays Travel is a good home."
John Hays was meeting with Bath Travel staff this morning. He will join the existing Bath Travel board of directors, which now consists of four members of the management team, together with Hays Travel retail and training director Jane Schumn and Hays commercial director Andrea Kendal.
"This acquisition reinforces Hays Travel's position as the UK's largest independent travel agent and prepares the group well for the future," added John Hays. "I'm very excited about it. We are a multi-channel business and the web is important to us but I have been a constant advocate for personalised, good quality service and Bath Travel exemplifies that."
He said the acquisition was a straight-forwarded cash purchase, funded by Hays Travel. He said there were no plans to close any of Bath's 60 shops or to reduce staff at its head office, which will shortly move into new premises in Bournemouth.
Hays Travel has 43 retail shops and employs over 800 people. It has an annual turnover of more than £500 million.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013