Holidays company upbeat after seeing sales surge

PUBLISHED: 14:37 30 March 2011

Sales director Harold Burke, of The UK Holiday Group.

Sales director Harold Burke, of The UK Holiday Group.

Archant © 2007

Over-55 holidays specialist UK Holiday Group says it is looking forward to continued strong growth in 2011 after posting an 11pc increase in sales in 2010.

The Norwich-based firm said strong sales across all the firm’s brands saw turnover increase 11pc to £26m in its latest results, to the end of October 2010.

Profit dropped 19pc to £1.7m, largely due to refurbishment, acquisition and integration costs of two new hotels bought during the year, the firm said.

However, it said like-for-like profit based on continuing activities across the group were about the same as the previous year.

And forecast profit for 2011 was £2m on a turnover of £30m, a predicted 13pc sales increase.

Sales director Harold Burke said: “The UK remains very strong for us.

“Since the new year bookings have been really strong. There have been recent global events which people do get distracted by as it affects how people feel.

“Everyone in the industry is finding it the same. The UK through everything has remained very strong and we do not see that changing. We are still doing a lot of river and ocean cruising.”

At the centre of the firm’s strength is its focus on the over-55s group, which it caters for mainly through tours in its UK Grand Holidays brand.

Mr Burke said because of their market, the firm had been less affected by what was happening in the economy. He said the firm had also made sure it had a good selection of affordable holidays.

The purchase of Daunceys Hotel in Weston-Super-Mare early in 2010 helped drive a good year in the west country.

The firm, which employs about 500 people, 60 at its Queens Road head quarters in Norwich, also recently reopened what was the White Feather Hotel in Great Yarmouth, now called The Nelson Hotel, after taking it over.

Mr Burke said the firm was always looking at other opportunities including hotels. It is currently developing its websites, is launching a travel club and a magazine for customers.

The UK Holiday Group, founded by chairman and founder Paul Bennett in 1983, operates through a group travel division, Grand UK Holidays, a hotel division, Grand UK Hotels, sister company Glenton Holidays, a tour operator covering Scotland, Sunrise Direct and Just For Groups.

It sees through 100,000 passengers a year and deals through travel agents like Thompson.

The tour operation and hotels all interact so bookings can be made at hotels for tours as well as acting as a normal hotel.

The business is also affiliated to other organisations, such as Age UK, through which it had its largest ever booking this year at £1m for a booking with Fred Olsen.

Its business is predominantly in the UK but Mr Burke said overseas business was increasing.

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