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Published on Friday, November 29, 2019

If Only promises jobs are safe following sale

Portman Travel Group has bought luxury trade-only tour operator If Only for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will see founders Brendan and Mary Maguire immediately leave the business they founded 18 years ago.

If Only CEO Andy Freeth (left), product and distribution director Gordon McCreadie, sales director Tracy Docherty and operations director David Irving will be staying with the company.

All other 110 employees will remain with the business, which will continue to be based in Glasgow.

McCreadie said: "We are entering into our largest and most crucial peaks ever so it's business as usual in delivering the same unrivalled knowledge, expertise and prices our agents have always been given.

"Retailers will still speak to the same staff as they have always done and receive the same amazing service."

Portman Travel also owns Elegant Resorts and Clarity, which were acquired in 2014, and Ian Allan Travel, which was acquired in May 2019 by Clarity.

In the last 18 months If Only has significantly grown its turnover, moved to new offices, invested in telephony and technology and expanded its portfolio into the USA, Caribbean and luxury cruise.

In the coming weeks their new Far East brochure will feature Japan and China for the first time in the company's history.

Brendan Maguire said: "When I recruited Andy, he was tasked with finding an investor with a similar culture, integrity, ethos and a fit that would allow the business to thrive and grow in the future.

"Whilst Mary and I are sad to leave a business we've worked so hard on, we see this investment as a really exciting opportunity for the brand and the team. If Only is a long established and respected trade business, and this is a brilliant move for our partners and customers.

"The acquisition will allow Andy and his team to continue the phenomenal growth delivered. I would personally like to thank all of the team at If Only, our suppliers and our travel agent partners for their support over the last 18 years and look forward to retirement".

Andy Freeth added: "Having an innovative, supportive and financially solid investor for If Only unlocks great benefits for the team, our partners and our customers. We'll gain access to a wider portfolio of luxury holiday products and will have access to capital to invest in technology. We'll be sharing our exciting plans over the coming months".

Portman CEO Redmond Walsh said: "We are pleased to welcome Andy and the If Only team to Portman Travel Group and wish Brendan and Mary all the best in their retirement. If Only is a dedicated B2B luxury specialist, and a well-respected and long-established luxury tour operator with a name for quality and an amazing reputation within the trade.

"We were attracted by If Only's sales growth over the last two years, the strong management team and their engagement with agents. The acquisition fulfils Portman Travel Group's strategy of buying complementary and sector leading businesses. Portman Travel Group has owned Elegant Resorts, the highly respected luxury specialist, since 2014, and I look forward to seeing the trade sales teams from both If Only and Elegant Resorts, continuing to flourish in the B2B space."

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