Barrhead Travel has had another record year of sales despite a Brexit-led dent in consumer confidence in the wake of the June 2016 vote.
The company’s gross turnover was up £12.7m to £279.2m in 2016.
In current trading, forward bookings are up 8% year-on-year. As a result it forecasts that 2017 will return a further improved performance, especially as there has been an inclement Scottish summer which has boosted late holiday bookings.
Profitability also remained healthy in its most recent year. Pre-tax profits in the year to the end of 2016 fell slightly to £2.8m, down £300,000 on 2015. This decline reflected a significant £500,000 investment in the establishment of its state-of-the-art Newcastle store, as well as a further £350,000 invested in improved customer-facing technology.
The travel group has also referenced a significant investment in the development of its new Training Academy, located in Glasgow city centre.
Barrhead Travel’s top selling destinations in 2016 were Costa Blanca, Lanzarote, Palma, Tenerife and Orlando, with Florida the top long-haul destination. The multiple award-winning travel company also saw large year-on-year increases in travellers to Cuba up 76%, New York up 49%, Thailand up 48%, Costa Dorada up 34% and Calgary up 29%.
Commenting on the results, CEO Sharon Munro said: “I am delighted to report that 2016 was another successful year. Despite the continuing challenging economic climate and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit we have seen both excellent growth and performance in 2016 resulting in a record sales year for the company and continued healthy operating profits.”
Sales in 2016 were boosted by its expansion in England. Barrhead Travel opened experiential travel shops in Newcastle last year and another in Leicester this year (2017). Staff numbers have now broken through the 1,000 mark and it is on track to recruit 85 new staff members, mainly destination specialists, across its network including at its Glasgow headquarters by the end of 2017.
This will bring the number of recruits this year to 234 and it will open more stores in prime locations throughout the UK in 2018.
The Homeworking and Franchise division, Brilliant Travel, continues to grow and thrive in an ever increasingly competitive marketplace according to the company. The programme offers self-employed travel agents technology that gives them access to the keenest prices and a range of travel suppliers.
Barrhead Travel supports responsible tourism, conservation of natural resources and sustainability in general through a partnership with TraveLife. It also works with Just a Drop, a charity that is making a real difference in helping provide safe, clean water to those who need it most.
A new web-based customer portal is accessible on any device and offers customers direct access to their previous quotes and bookings as well as all documents for their current bookings. Using a log-in, itineraries and travel documents can be managed and printed, payments can be made and passport information can be added.
Barrhead Travel has also recently launched holiday forums where customers are able to interact and share holiday experiences with each other. IT will be able to stream presentations from both themselves and their trade partners, provide information, deliver news, promote events, run competitions and generally engage with their audience at a much higher level. The opportunity to have live conversations with customers and have blogs that actively talk directly to customers has already gone down extremely well says the company.
Artificial Intelligence is also being introduced into stores and online. This will be used to help sales consultants as it will be able to answer questions the consultants do not have readily to hand.