From the publisher

Bruce Piper

Consolidation in the Australian travel sector has been a strong theme of the last few weeks, with mergers and acquisitions firmly on the agenda as suppliers and agents jostle to reap the benefits of scale.

By the time you read this Helloworld’s acquisition of Magellan should be done and dusted, with just one of Magellan Travel Group’s 98 unit holders deciding not to sign the new agreement. The $32.5 million deal further concentrates Helloworld’s negotiating muscle, while the industry will be watching with keen interest as to how HLO’s now six retail networks will work together under the company’s new head of retail and commercial, John Constable, to whom Magellan MD Andrew Macfarlane will now report.

On the supplier side, another deal which travelBulletin has been assured will be settled imminently is the sale of generalist wholesaler Si Holidays and its portfolio of brands including Freestyle Holidays, The Collection and Waitui.

Owner Tui Eruera purchased the former Pinpoint Holidays business from Mastercard in October 2016, vowing to provide “fresh competition” for Flight Centre’s in-house Infinity wholesale brand and Helloworld’s Qantas/Viva! Holidays.

However the reality appears to have been somewhat more tricky, with Eruera recently confirming the company was in takeover talks with another Australian-based wholesaler.

“The travel wholesale market has proven to be a very challenging environment and consolidation seems like the logical step forward for the company,” he said.

“The travel wholesale market has proven to be a very challenging environment and consolidation seems like the logical step forward for the company.”

The update followed a spate of “customer service issues” in recent months, with Eruera admitting that the pursuit of automation within the business had proven costly.

Flight Centre Travel Group is also consolidating internally, with the imminent shutdown of its Cruiseabout and Escape Travel brands (see story below) as the company restructures around three leisure “super networks”.

It will be intriguing to see how this plays out in many of Australia’s large shopping malls, where FCTG has until now been able to create a dominant presence through multiple differently branded stores.

MEANWHILE other big news last month included the shock resignation of long-standing Globus Family of Brands (GFOB) MD Australasia, Stewart Williams.

Williams, who had led the local operations since 1992, has been succeeded by interim MD Peter Douglas while a search is undertaken for a permanent replacement.

GFOB marketing manager Chris Fundell, who had also recently resigned to relocate to Queensland, has agreed to defer his departure for six months to support Douglas.