If Only will seek to “provide opportunity for agents in a volatile marketplace” following its acquisition by Elegant Resorts parent Portman Travel Group.
Chief executive Andy Freeth told TTG the purchase of the luxury operator for an undisclosed sum would “offer stability for staff” and “unleash the potential of our brand”.
If Only founders Brendan and Mary Maguire are to step away from the Glasgow-based business after 18 years, with Freeth and his senior leadership team of Gordon McCreadie, Tracy Docherty and David Irving remaining in place.
Maguire said Freeth, who joined If Only in April 2018 from Gold Medal and Travel 2, had been 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”.
The buyout sees If Only join Portman’s portfolio of brands, which includes luxury specialist Elegant Resorts and travel management companies Clarity and Ian Allan Travel.
The operator will look to “hit big numbers” during January and February’s peak booking period, Freeth said, before launching a review in March into how best to strengthen and expand under Portman.
He added If Only would look at South Africa and Latin America as well as considering a European programme and other initiatives based on agent feedback.
Under Portman’s ownership, If Only will have access to its group HR, IT and financial capabilities as well as its talent pool, Freeth said, revealing an offer for If Only was lodged by Portman three months ago.
For peaks, which Freeth promised would see If Only’s “biggest ever campaign”, the operator will launch its first e-quoting tool and bring back its “Win a Fam a Day” competition.
“Right now, it’s business as usual for us, then in the spring – with our strong and solid owners – we’ll look at next steps and how to enhance our offering further,” said Freeth.
It’s been quiet on the travel business acquisition front of late, however this investment is well-timed for If Only – a popular brand among the trade – in the run-up to peaks, with what sounds like a solid investment package from Portman Travel Group.
If Only will now look to widen its destination portfolio further and improve its technology systems, as it continues its growth under Andy Freeth’s leadership.
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