The boss of Stella Travel Services UK has said that dnata’s acquisition of the group is likely to be followed by investment across the business, with the possibility of new high street openings.
The deal was formally completed last week after being given the green light by European regulators. Chief executive Andrew Botterill believes the takeover will help the collection of companies under the Stella umbrella continue to grow.
“When I started talking to dnata around 18 months ago and discussed the plans for the business in terms of the growth and opportunity that we thought we had, they were fairly aligned with how dnata saw the market, particularly in the UK but also further afield,” Botterill said.
“I think from their perspective they saw the growth opportunity – that’s why we continued talking and we ended up in a transaction.”
The acquisition brings brands such as Travelbag, Travel 2 and The Global Travel Group under the control of dnata. The Middle Eastern company has already boosted its portfolio in recent years with deals for the likes of Travel
Republic in 2011 and Gold Medal earlier this year.
Some in the trade have questioned whether the purchase will lead to consolidation, but Botterill is keen to stress that, particularly with regard to Travel 2 and Gold Medal, there are plenty of differences between businesses. Instead of disposals, he talks of growth.
“I think what we’ve said is, today both businesses are in growth. Of course there are similarities in terms of what we sell and whom we sell it to.
“But equally – and this has not been that well reported – there are also some real distinct differences in terms of the capabilities of both brands and what they do and the services they offer.
“It’s not quite as straightforward as an observer just looking at the two businesses and saying surely you’re going to do something.”
Meanwhile, Stella’s online travel agent Sunmaster is likely to see investment in its infrastructure, while Travelbag could benefit from new store openings.
“A few locations are underrepresented on the high street – with further capital investment we can grow that business,” Botterill added.