Kuoni puts tour operating business up for sale

Kuoni has put its UK business up for sale as it looks to exit the tour operating business to focus on its core activities.

The Swiss company is also seeking buyers for its tour operators in Switzerland, Benelux, Hong Kong and China, India, Scandinavia and Finland.

A total of 3,800 people will be affected by the decision.

In a statement released this morning, it said: "Kuoni firmly believes that the outbound business can be better developed under new ownership, potentially leveraging scale or specific local strengths. Kuoni will seek assurance about the continuation of the existing business locations and the continued employment of staff."

It said its exit from the tour operating business will not have any impact on customers or their current and future bookings.

Kuoni Travel UK staff are being briefed this morning by managing director Derek Jones, who said he and the UK leadership team will remain in place to oversee the process 'and continue the ambitious plans for growth in the UK market'.

Kuoni was established in the UK market exactly 50 years ago and now sells holidays to more than 80 destinations around the world.  

The Kuoni Travel UK group also includes specialist businesses Carrier, Kirker, Voyage Jules Verne,  CV Villas and Journeys of Distinction.

Kuoni Travel UK said this morning: "In recent years the company has developed its digital presence and has rapidly grown its own retail network in the UK market. 

"It now has 35 Kuoni branded shops in carefully chosen locations throughout the UK, including 10 Kuoni at John Lewis concessions." 

Jones added: "In the UK market Kuoni has an enviable reputation as the market leader for worldwide travel. 

"It's very much business as usual right now for all our staff and customers.  This is the busiest time for holiday bookings and right now our focus is on continuing to deliver brilliant holidays and service for all customers.

"We firmly believe that the outbound business can be better developed under new ownership and we'll be working closely with our colleagues in Switzerland to make sure we find the right buyers."

Kuoni intends to find new owners in the course of 2015.

Its tour operating business as a whole generated turnover of CHF 2.2 billion (£1.4bn)  in 2014, but Kuoni's board of directors said its decision to sell was prompted by 'the fundamental changes in the industry.

"Scale advantages, state-of-the-art technology, a global footprint and differentiated product offerings are becoming increasingly important in the global travel industry. The Board of Directors and the Group Executive Board have therefore decided to focus Kuoni's activities on the three core businesses in which it already has leading global market positions," it said.