Records tumble as ‘up-for-sale’ Travel Counsellors starts year strongly

Travel Counsellors, the independent provider of bespoke travel services which is believed to have been put up for sale by its private equity owner for £200m, has enjoyed a record- breaking month for sales in January, with its global operations seeing a 15% year-on-year rise.

The Manchester-based company, which has more than 1,700 self-employed franchisees running their own travel businesses across seven countries, achieved global sales of £77.4m in January. Travel Counsellors’ UK sales also beat previous records, with the £56.8m secured last month an 18% increase on 2017.

This includes the highest sales figure achieved in a single day, with the £4.4m seen on January 31 the first time that Travel Counsellors has surpassed the £4m mark in its history.

In total, seven of the firm’s top 10 largest sales days were achieved last month. Fridays proved to be the most active day of the week for holiday bookings, with the final three of the month accumulating sales of £11.5m alone.

Travel Counsellors also saw record levels of bookings on the final day of the month through its in-house technology platform, Phenix, with £2m in sales secured through the system January 31st. Furthermore, the company’s own TC Packages made up £1.4m of this total, enabling Travel Counsellors to act as the tour operator, tailor-making bespoke packages whilst being in control of the experience for their customer. As a result, 340 of the company’s Travel Counsellor business owners celebrated their best ever sales month in January.

According to Travel Counsellors’ figures, the Maldives saw the biggest year on year booking growth, followed by Canada, Hawaii, Croatia, Turkey and Japan. However, Spain remained the most booked destination, with the US, Greece, Italy and Dubai also seeing strong levels of demand. Cruise packages were also keenly sought after, with a rise of 14 per cent year on year.

Jim Eastwood, global sales director at Travel Counsellors, said: “January is the perfect time for travellers to plan ahead, whether that’s booking the family summer holiday or arranging important overseas business meetings.

“We have been focused on supporting our 1,700 Travel Counsellors globally throughout the busy booking period, so they are able to focus on providing the very best service and levels of care to their customers.”

It was reported three weeks ago that owner Equistone had appointed Rothschild to offload the business for a possible asking price of up to £200m, although Travel Counsellors declined to comment on the speculation.

The company, now headquartered near the Trafford Centre, achieved revenue of £188m in 2016, and could now be sold, floated on the stock market or refinanced.

It was launched from a small shop in Atherton, between Wigan and Bolton, in 1994 by entrepreneur David Speakman, who pioneered an idea for travel planners to work from home.