Cruise company sale will safeguard jobs

Chief executive Sharon Munro is delighted at the move
Chief executive Sharon Munro is delighted at the move

Staff at a Larbert-based travel company have been told their jobs are secure after a takeover.

The Holiday Specialists has been acquired by Barrhead Travel in a deal worth around £3 million.

The main business of the company, which operates out of premises at Glenbervie Business Park, is direct online cruise sales via its The Cruise Specialists brand. Around 60 people are employed at the local office and the company’s website generates an annual turnover of £33 million.

Barrhead chief executive Sharon Munro, who led the negotiations, said: “This acquisition saw Barrhead Travel end 2012 on a very high note.

“After a successful year in which the company opened several new managed and corporate branches, we have now taken the next step toward our planned expansion.”

She said the company had identified the cruise market potential, adding: “We already had a large, multi-million cruise division, which is expanding year-on-year. The Cruise Specialists are purely a direct and online cruise retailer, specialising in the luxury end of the market.

“The majority of their customers come from south of the border, so this purchase will further strengthen the position of Barrhead Travel as a major cruise sales agency within England and the rest of the UK.”

Barrhead hopes the acquisition will boost its 2013 turnover by 22 per cent to over £200 million.

The Cruise Specialists will operate as a subsidiary of the company, and not be integrated into the existing Barrhead Travel or Cruise Direct brands.

Founder and managing director Phil Ginn and all his staff will remain with the business.

He said: “After achieving great success in our own right, I am tremendously excited to be joining forces with one of the most highly respected and ambitious travel companies in the UK.

“Joining Barrhead Travel Group will allow us to take the company to the next level.”

Barrhead chairman, Bill Munro, said: “We have expanded considerably over the past few years and adding The Cruise Specialists to our portfolio will bring our employee numbers up to around 700 in Scotland. This will make us the number one distributor in the UK for the majority of cruise brands.”