Travel Counsellors consider float as option for growth

Travel Counsellors consider float as option for growth

Word-of-mouth holiday booking firm Travel Counsellors is considering a stock market float as an option for its next stage of growth.

The company, which eschews conventional advertising in favour of recommendations by its customers to their friends and families, has said a London listing was one of a few ideas it had considered as part of plans it is putting together to decide how to develop the business over the next few years.

The private equity firm Equistone ploughed £100m into the company in 2014 to snap up a 60pc stake at a time when pre-tax profits were £7.3m and total transaction values (the combined value of the holidays its agents have sold) were £307m. But new accounts show total transaction values have surpassed the £500m mark while pre-tax profits hit £13.3m for 2016.

The company earns its money by charging its self-employed travel agents, of which it now has 1,600, an initial joining fee depending on their experience (ranging from £295 if you currently work in travel to £10,000 for training if you haven’t), a £40 monthly fee and by taking a 40pc share of the commission agents earn on selling products to customers.

Chief executive Steve Byrne said the company was “looking at our options” regarding the next stage of growth, which could involve strategies including engaging another private equity fund to invest in the business or to list on the stockmarket.

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