Acquisitions lift Travelzest into black in UK

The owner of the UK’s biggest naturist tour operator posted profits for the first time today.

The owner of the UK’s biggest naturist tour operator posted profits for the first time today.

Travelzest, which also rents out prestigious homes for holiday breaks, said its UK businesses added to an “excellent” first contribution from itravel2000.com, the Canadian online travel agency it bought last October.

The Somerset-based travel firm, which last year bought naturist operator Peng Travel, beat expectations with underlying pre-tax profits of £1.7m (€2.5m) in the six months to April 30 – compared with a £1.3m (€1.9m) loss last year.

Travelzest paid £24.5m (€36.2m) for the Canadian firm to help deliver all-year-round profitability as winter is the peak period for Canadian holidaymakers.

Itravel2000.com delivered a 17% increase in sales over the winter and the company expects further growth as customers increasingly turn to the web.

The company said: “We believe there are further opportunities for growth in the Canadian market. Consumers in Canada are progressively embracing the internet as a tool for leisure research.”

Travelzest, which was set up by current chief executive Chris Mottershead in April 2005, now has nine businesses. Mr Mottershead added that the company’s UK specialist businesses had delivered an “improved” performance over the period.

As well as Peng, the firm’s other specialist operators include Wow House, which rents out prestigious UK homes for holiday breaks.

The company, which said that current trading was in line with expectations, is also considering more acquisitions following the Canadian deal.

Investec analyst Joseph Thomas predicts full-year profits of £3.6m (€5.31m) for Travelzest.

He said: “Travelzest is very different from mainstream tour operators such as Thomas Cook as it operates a more seasonally balanced portfolio of brands.

“It has achieved profitability in the first half, whereas mainstream operators more realistically only look to limit losses in this period.”

Travelzest’s revenues jumped to £13.6m (€20m) for the period – compared with £3.7m (€5.46m) – boosted by the itravel2000.com acquisition. The company has 300 staff.

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