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Published on Saturday, October 12, 2019

Travelopia chief outlines plans to ditch brands

Travelopia, formerly the specialist holiday division of TUI, has outlined plans to reduce its brands to just 10 with the next year.

Speaking to delegates at the ABTA Convention in Tokyo, chief executive Andy Duncan said it has already closed or sold off some of the weaker and sometimes loss-making brands.

The business had more than 50 brands when it was sold by TUI last year to private equity group KKR for £325 million.

Brands being retained include adventure specialist Exodus, Quark Expeditions, private jet company TCS, yachting businesses Sunsail and The Moorings and tailor-made businesses including Hayes & Jarvis, Citalia and Sovereign.

Duncan said there hadn't been much investment in the specialist brands by TUI for over a decade.

"Some brands were quite weak and they were treated the same as a strong brands," he said.

"There were some divisions that didn't fit with the rest of the group, such as the group student and school trips, which had better homes elsewhere. We had to make some tough choices."

The process is around half way there and is expected to be completed with the next 12 months.

Duncan said all of the priority brands would rely on a balance of direct and trade sales, depending on the brand.

"There were legacy relationships with TUI that had got in the way of working with other businesses, but that's no longer the case," he said.

Duncan, who came from outside the industry and previously worked in television and for Camelot, said this was his first ABTA Convention and the event had given him the opportunity to speak to industry peers and learn a lot more about the industry.

"I can't match many of you in terms of your industry experience, but I think I bring new experience and ideas from other industries," he told delegates.

He said he was particularly experienced in customer experience and the data and digital side, which would be a focus for Travelopia.

"We've not been very good with data so that's a real opportunity," he said.

He also believes there are opportunities for a more co-operative approach in the travel industry.

"It's a complex world but I think there are partnership opportunities where travel businesses could legitimately compete in some areas but partner in others," he said.

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