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16 Sep 2015
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TRFBLI

New German owners Rewe Group will 'invest and open doors' for Kuoni

The boss of Kuoni UK has said the firm could benefit from investment by its new owners as the sale of the business formally went through this week

Derek Jones (Kuoni UK)

Kuoni’s European tour operating division has been bought by German cooperative Rewe Group and will be incorporated into its Der Touristik division.

 

Derek Jones, Kuoni UK’s managing director, said the change of ownership would “open doors” for the operator.

 

“For the medium to long term, obviously with new parents who are ambitious and have plans of their own, we need to work with them to understand what additional opportunities there might now be for us in the UK market and how we take them forward,” he said.

 

The company’s previous owners, Kuoni Group, had made it clear that it wanted to move away from traditional tour operating to focus on its B2B operations.

 

“When it came to investment decision… they [Kuoni Group] tended to go in a different direction to match their own strategy.

 

“The one thing that Rewe has been very clear about throughout this whole process is that they do believe in the UK market, they believe in our strategy and they’re prepared to invest in order to grow. So that is very different, and will open doors and create new opportunities for us.”

 

Jones also insisted that the operator’s retail footprint would continue to grow next year, with Kuoni UK set to have around 40 stores by the end of 2015 alone.

 

“I would anticipate further growth in the retail network in 2016,” he added.

 

Elsewhere, Jones stressed that Kuoni UK would remain independent, as would the firm’s specialist brands, which include Kirker Holidays and CV Villas.

 

The one casualty, however, is direct-sell operator Journeys of Distinction, which Kuoni announced last week was set to close and be rolled into the Kuoni UK portfolio.

 

Jones insisted the decision to cease its operation as a stand-alone business was made before Rewe’s interest became known.

 

Two of the four staff have been made redundant, while the remaining two found jobs with sister company Carrier.

 

According to the last published accounts for Journeys of Distinction Ltd, the company made an operating loss of £615,000 for the year ended December 31, 2013, up from £500,000 in the prior year. Turnover also fell 14% in the period, to £4.3 million.

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