Travel firms stand out in speedy growth league

Travel firms stand out in speedy growth league

A number of travel businesses from across the sector are featured in the latest Sunday Times/FastTrack research, which lists the UK’s 250 biggest mid-market private companies according to sales.

There are no pureplay online travel businesses featured, with food delivery service Ocado and online bookmaker BetFair flying the flag for e-commerce.

Regional airline FlyBe takes pride of place at the top of the table, with sales of £535.9 million in the year to end-March 08. As previously reported, it made an operating profit of £38.2 million during the period. The business has a cash reserve of £67.4m, according to the report.

VC-majority owned travel management company Portman Travel comes in at 85 in the list, with sales in 2007 of £296.8 million. It made an operating profit of £4.7million.

Edinburgh-based tour operator and airline Globespan Group recorded sales of £278.7 million in the year to end-Oct 07, carrying 1.8 million passengers, putting it at 100th in the list. However, it ended the period £19.5 million in the red. Profitability is not used in the rankings.

London-based Lotus Group, owner of a number of travel businesses, was placed 117th  with sales of £259.8 million in the year to end-Oct07. It made an operating profit of £10.7 million. Its highest profile brand, Dial A Flight, booked 650,000 passengers during the twelve months.

Resort operator Center Parcs reported annualised sales of £251.6 million and a profit of £10.2 million; while budget hotel chain Travelodge made £20.6 million on sales of £243.8 million in 2007.

Two traditional businesses complete the travel line-up. Escorted tours specialist Travelsphere came in at 198 with annualised sales of £195.2 million and an £11.9 million profit, although these figures appear to refer to FY 2006.

Shearings, which owns 49 hotels and eight high street shops as well as arranging coach, rail and air tours, recorded sales of £179.5 million in 2007 and made a profit of £2.3 million.

The highest-placed e-commerce business is Ocado, which reported sales of £272.9 million in its latest financial year with runs to 2 Dec.

However, it racked up operating losses of more than £30 million during the period. Online bookmaker BetFair made more than £20 million on sales of £181.9 million in the year to end-April 07.


More information:

* Sunday Times-Fast Track 100

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