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"Within a 60-minute drive of our catchment areas there live 26 million people so there’s plenty to go for in the north"

“Within a 60-minute drive of our catchment areas there live 26 million people so there’s plenty to go [for] in the north of England. We think there’s enough people there to take on holiday and on flights, so the north of England is where we are for the moment,” he said.

 

In June, the group announced a rise in operating profit, but also warned that a weak market would affect figures for this financial year.

 

The same problems have been encountered by other operators, with talk of overcapacity running though the industry. However, this threat subsided as the summer went on - enough for the group chairman and chief executive, Philip Meeson, to talk of “uplift” in the market in September.

 

Heapy agreed: “From last summer really, from July summer 2013… the market was a little bit soft and it’s been a very tough environment over the past 12 months.

 

“But the tail end of summer is looking slightly more encouraging and winter 2014 is pretty much where we expect to be, and summer 2015 within expectations.

 

“Hopefully we’ve been through the worst and the market will recover.”

 

Like other senior industry figures, Heapy, who worked at Libra Holidays and MyTravel before joining the Dart Group in 2009, said he also believed there was truth in talk of the World Cup and weather affecting sales.

 

The biggest problem though, he said, was still the economy. Although the south-east and London are starting to see signs of a recovery, Heapy insisted some areas of the north were yet to feel the benefit.

 

“We’ve got commentators based primarily in the south saying the economy is recovering but people in the north of England I don’t think are really feeling it at the moment - there are still tough times up here,” he added.

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