Inc & Co swoops in multimillion-pound takeover of travel business

Nick Marks (left) Jack Mason (centre) and Chris Marks (right)
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A multimillion-pound takeover of a travel firm by Manchester-based business group Inc & Co has secured its continued high street presence and more than 50 jobs.

Inc & Co has acquired Baldwins Travel, which trades throughout Sussex and Kent.

Established more than 120 years ago, the Tunbridge Wells-based company has eight branches, all of which will be protected under the move to the new owner.

The acquisition follows a challenging year for travel, but the investment will allow Baldwins to navigate its way out of the difficulties presented to the sector during the pandemic.

Jack Mason, group CEO of Inc & Co, said: “We’re really excited to announce Inc & Co’s acquisition of Baldwins Travel, and we’ll be warmly welcoming the brand into our growing portfolio of businesses.

“Although it’s been a difficult year for the wider sector, we’re delighted to be in a position to secure the futures of Baldwins’ employees and branches across Kent and Sussex.

“Since our founding in 2019, we’ve grown the number of businesses we oversee and our employee headcount, from just five to 750 across 15 brands. We’re really excited to bring Baldwins’ established brand heritage and the expertise of its long serving staff into the Inc & Co family.

“The Inc & Co team will be bringing our expertise in digital and e-commerce to the table – to re-ignite Baldwins’ offering and helping the team to accommodate pent-up holiday demand, both online and for their loyal customers in-store.

“Baldwins is a great business with excellent management teams already in place, which is why it will very much remain a family-run operation. Our plans looking forward to 2022 will see us invest in its tech infrastructure to ensure its online presence is on par with its in-store experience.”

Originally a bookbinder and stationer that started selling rail tickets, Baldwins grew to become one of the largest travel operators across the South Coast, now commanding a high street presence across Tunbridge Wells, Cranbrook, Lewes, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tenterden, Tonbridge and Uckfield.

Chris and Nick Marks – former Baldwins owners – will remain within the business.

They said: “Being a family-owned and run business, we’ve had many very happy years at the helm of Baldwins. We have benefited from fabulous long lasting relationships with our customers, our team members and our trade suppliers.

“Going into the pandemic, we were a strong and successful business, but many industries and businesses have been upturned by COVID, and none more so than the travel industry. We were the first to be impacted and look to be the last to be able to recover.

“We have sought to ensure the excellent name of Baldwins Travel can flourish once again, which is why we are really pleased to be joining the Inc & Co team, who not only have a huge passion for travel but also have ambitions to invest in and develop the team, the brand and also the digital potential of the business.”

They added: “We are really pleased to be moving over to Inc & Co to help guide the business forward to new greater heights with the wider expertise from its portfolio of businesses and we would like to thank all our clients over the years for their custom.”