Not Just Travel appoints head of franchise marketing

January 27, 2022

Not Just Travel has recruited Jenny Farenden as head of franchise marketing as it continues its recruitment drive and expansion plan.

Farenden (pictured) joins from Fantastic Services, where as head of marketing she helped it rise to number seven in the list of the UK’s top 100 franchises.

Not Just Travel said she will “bring the same momentum” to The Travel Franchise, which currently has more than 500 agents on its books.

Farenden will be in charge of marketing the franchises and also developing opportunities for travel consultants – and will recruit and lead her own marketing team.

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Co-founder Steve Witt said: “Jenny’s appointment is a real coup for us. She’s the rocket fuel that will enable our company to soar. Paul and I were so impressed by her that we literally had to stop the job interview to tell her she had got the job. Jenny is passionate about people and now brings this vibrant strategic thinking, energy, incredible leadership and creativity to our brand.

“As part of our ongoing expansion programme, Jenny will start recruiting her own team. We will also be appointing a head of travel marketing to bolster our communications and sales strategy. With Jenny in place, we will revolutionise our offering and cement the company as the go-to travel franchise provider on the market.”

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Farenden attended a recent event attended by more than 200 members and said she was “blown away by how happy and motivated all the travel consultants are”, adding: “They love what they do and love being part of the brand. That speaks volumes.”

Earlier this month, the franchise announced Marcus Jones, formerly of Auto Trader and Reach PLC, as its new chief revenue officer as part of its plans to double in size within the next 12 months.

By Hanisha Sethi

Source: Travel Weekly

Hays Travel offers would-be entrepreneurs a chance to take on franchise business

September 7, 2021

Hays Travel, the UK’s largest independent travel agent, is opening up franchise opportunities to new applicants across the UK.

The firm says the franchise model allows people who want to run their own business to benefit from the support, expertise, buying power and security of being part of the Hays Travel brand.

Retail Director Jane Schumm will personally support businesses and says she is looking for ‘ambitious, motivated people who are passionate about travel and having their own successful business’.

“The time is right now for small businesses to think about how to increase their profitability and be ready for the bounce-back from the pandemic and know they will be supported with all the regulatory requirements in this sector,” she said.

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“We’ve seen our franchise work successfully already and we know it is a viable option that brings all the benefits of being part of the Hays Travel family while retaining independence.”

Hays’ first franchisee was Don Bircham, who joined in 2014 with 14 shops and turnover of £30million. In the last seven years since, he has trebled his shop network to 44 in the North West of England and Wales, and increased his turnover to over £100million.

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“As a Hays Travel franchise, we enjoy the support of all the Hays Travel departments, from IT, HR, payroll, and finance, to marketing and social media as well as state-of-the-art technology and efficient back office functions,” he said.”Another huge advantage is the access to top commercial teams who have considerable buying power to negotiate excellent commission rates, staff incentives and educational trips.

“This is something we could never achieve without the scale and reputation of Hays Travel behind us.”As well as existing travel agents, people who have no experience in travel retail, but see this as an opportunity to invest in a new direction are welcome to apply.They receive benefits including the use of the Hays Travel trading name, technology, support services such as payroll, IT and management accounts, to access to day-to-day help with HR and customer service.

By Kevin Clark

Source: Sunderland Echo

Brand new super centre adventure park to open just down the road from Milton Keynes

December 8, 2020

Flip Out, the UK’s biggest adventure park franchise, is opening a new super centre in Aylesbury on Saturday (12/12) which includes a glow in the dark ice rink and bumper cars.

The enormous 45,000 sq. ft venue, in the former BHS store in the Friars Square Shopping Centre, cost over a million pounds to refit and will generate 75 new jobs in the town.

The state of the art indoor park is packed with new features including an interactive mini golf, a bumper car track, ninja tag, laser quest, an ice rink, interactive football and a 10,000 sq. ft indoor interactive assault course.

The huge venue is one of the first ‘super-centres’ to be launched by the popular franchise and will also include a large soft play area for toddlers and parents to relax with refreshments and snack from the cafe.

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Richard Beese, the co-founder of Flip Out, said: “This is a revolutionary, new concept, adventure park and I can’t tell you how excited we are to be opening our doors in time for the Christmas period.

“It’s been a difficult year for everyone but now we want to give people an outlet to go have some fun and still be safe.

“If you’re been stuck at home bouncing off the walls in frustration, then what better way to blow off some steam with the family!

“This park, with no trampolines or inflatables, is the first of its kind, and is absolutely jam-packed with a multitude of fantastic activities and we can’t wait for the people of Aylesbury to enjoy what’s on offer!”

The new centre will be over 2 floors and will run classic Flip Out sessions including fully hosted birthday parties, late-night ‘after dark’ discos, toddler soft play activities, and group sleepovers.

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Around 25 full-time and 50 part-time roles have been created, with opening times being 10 am to 8 pm Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 9 pm Friday and Saturday and then 10 am to 7 pm on a Sunday.

A 3-hour session costs £20 and the park will offer discounted family pass tickets.

Free parking will be provided for 90 minutes in the shopping centre for all Flip Out customers seven days a week when attending a session.

Flip Out cater for kids, teens and adults and have designated, themed, party rooms, bars and restaurant facilities from mums and dads who might prefer to put their feet up and watch.

The brand has been growing rapidly over the last 18 months and now have 25 sites in the UK with many more planned.

BHS closed its doors in 2016 and the site has been used as a charity shop among other things.

Source: MK fm

easyHotel plans European expansion with £11m share funding

March 9, 2020

EasyHotel – A hotel franchise has announced that it is aiming to raise £11m for its brand growth and international roll-out.

EasyHotel, which owns, develops and operates ‘super budget’ hotels, said that it will be issuing more than 11 million subscription shares to Citrus Holdco at a price of 95 pence per share.

The proceeds of the subscription shares will go towards the company’s owned hotel roll-out strategy.

The company also announced an investment in Spain recently as part of its European expansion strategy.

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Scott Christie, interim CEO of easyHotel, commented: “Our recently announced investment in Spain marks the latest step in our strategy to expand our owned hotel network across centrally located, high quality sites in major European cities.

“The Group continues to make good progress towards securing sites in its target destinations and we look forward to announcing further developments in due course.”

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Harm Meijer, non-executive chairman, commented: “Citrus Holdco Limited confirmed at the time of its offer for easyHotel’s shares last year that it was committed to supporting easyHotel to achieve the board’s strategic vision for the business more quickly and effectively.

“The proceeds from this proposed subscription will provide the business with the capital it needs to pursue the next stage of its owned hotel roll-out strategy.

“We are excited about the development pipeline and, in particular, the potential for accelerating our targeted growth of the brand in Europe.”

By Chloe Shakesby

Source: BDaily

Budget hotel operator EasyHotel to open Dublin property next year

January 30, 2020

Budget hotel operator EasyHotel is targeting a 2021 opening date for its first property in the Republic.

Currently, the company’s only presence in Ireland is its one hotel in Belfast, which is run on a franchise basis.

A long-since planned opening in Dublin is now set for the second half of 2021 and further Irish openings have not been ruled out.

The company acquired a freehold site in the Smithfield area of Dublin City nearly two years ago. Planning permission initially allowed for a 96-bedroom hotel, but the company is now targeting a 160-bedroom property.

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The Dublin hotel will be owned and operated by the company, rather than via a franchise partner.

While further Irish openings have not been ruled out, EasyHotel’s immediate expansion focus is on UK cities and mainland Europe, particularly France and Spain.

EasyHotel is still listed on the London Stock Exchange, but is now majority-owned by a consortium including property investor Ivanhoé Cambridge and Luxembourg-based property fund manager ICAMAP Investments, as opposed to EasyJet and EasyGroup founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

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Speaking on the back of a mixed set of annual results, EasyHotel’s interim chief executive Scott Christie said management is excited by its development pipeline and the potential for the brand in Europe.

The company reported a 56% jump in revenues — to £17.6m (€20.8m) — for the year to the end of September, but also incurred a pre-tax loss of £3.57m, compared to a profit of £870,000 12 months prior.

By Geoff Percival

Source: Irish Examiner

EasyHotel looks to Europe with new CEO

January 11, 2020

EasyHotel has appointed François Bacchetta as CEO, replacing Guy Parsons, who left the company in November.

Baccetta joins the super-budget hotel brand from sister company easyJet, where he was country director for France and Italy, and is expected to drive the flag’s growth in Europe.

Bacchetta was at easyJet for 15 years, having previously held a number of senior marketing positions at global cosmetics group L’Oréal, including responsibility for territories in South East Asia, as well as Europe.

Harm Meijer, non-executive chairman, easyHotel, said: “Following a comprehensive search, we are pleased that François is joining us to lead easyHotel in its aspiration to become a European leader in the super-budget hotel segment. He knows the easy brand and understands its values extremely well. He also brings a wealth of experience in developing businesses, strategy, business optimisation, leadership, marketing and revenue management.”

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Bacchetta said: “easyHotel is a business I greatly admire and I am thrilled to be appointed. With a strong hotel network established in the UK, I believe this is a very exciting time for the brand and I look forward to leading the expansion in Europe as the group seeks to become a leader in the budget hotel space.”

October last year saw a consortium of Ivanhoé Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and ICAMAP, a real estate fund manager, announce that they now controlled 68.8% of easyHotel.

With 27.9% of easyHotel’s share capital held by easyGroup, the private investment vehicle of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the creator and owner of the ‘easy’ family of brands, this left a balance of 3.4% minority shareholders.

Sir Stelios had previously objected to the takeover move, describing it as “very low”. Once the deal was declared unconditional, he called on ICAMAP/Ivanhoe to replace “all the directors, whose advice to shareholders to accept the undervalued offer at 95p was plainly wrong”.

He added: “While I applaud the ICAMAP/Ivanhoe’s huge vote of confidence in easyHotel – I must repeat my insistence that it remains a listed company on the London market. It’s now clear that easyGroup’s 28% blocking minority stake and ICAMAP’s low ball offer has made it impossible for easyHotel to be taken private. Therefore this exercise was an object lesson in pointlessness. By taking their stake from 38% to 68%, ICAMAP have achieved little other than to enrich lawyers and bankers to the tune of £1.5m. What a colossal waste of money!

“But we are where we are. We will need to lay out a roadmap for further equity raisings in what is now Europe’s fastest-growing super-budget hotel chain to make it the success it surely deserves to be.”

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Sir Stelios had previously attempted to buy up shares to take his stake to just below the 30% threshold at which takeover rules would require him to make a bid for the whole company.

The 95p per share offer valued EasyHotel’s equity at £138.7m on a fully diluted basis and implied a multiple of 36.7 times the growing company’s Ebitda of £3.4m for the 12 months ended 31 March 2019.

The pair said that the company needed “significant investment” to fulfil its potential, with a move towards more franchising within the UK widely expected.

EasyHotel’s 12 owned hotels comprised 1,340 rooms, and it had a further 26 franchised hotels with 2,293 rooms. EasyHotel’s committed development pipeline of owned and franchised hotels currently consists of nine owned hotels and eight franchised hotels.

Karim Habra, head of Europe, Ivanhoé Cambridge, said: “This investment perfectly illustrates our innovative value-creation strategies through a complex operation. The easyHotel concept is pioneering and visionary. It is already a strong brand and we believe in its growth potential on a pan-European scale at a time when mass tourism is growing rapidly every year.”

Guillaume Poitrinal and Meijer, founding partners of ICAMAP, said: “Following the very strong level of acceptances of the offer, we look forward to working with easyGroup and the other shareholders to grow and expand the business and help easyHotel realise its full potential.”

Insight: Guy Parsons’ exit at the end of last year was a shock to many, given the hand he’d had in steering the brand towards growth after a lackadaisical start which saw guests paying for clean sheets and a far-from-rapid rollout. But new owners – or majority owners at least – so a new CEO.

Baccetta is the latest in a series of executives to come into the sector from that mythical place known as Elsewhere, where so few hotel CEOs originate. The budget segment has developed a taste for them, however, with Premier Inn having acquired Alison Brittain from – whisper it – retail banking in 2015.

The attraction for Whitbread at the time was Brittain’s experience on the high street rather than in hotels and almost five years later she has served longer than many a hotel CEO and, despite ongoing rumblings from activist shareholders, the brand remains intact and determined to grow in Europe, with Germany at the forefront.

But away from how Whitbread should use its Costa proceeds to pay for that and back to Europe and the new incumbent at easyHotel. The association with easyJet was always seen as key to easyHotel’s success, not least because the brand’s expansion overseas tended to link to the routes of the airline. Value for money joined the two in the mind of the consumer and in the mind of the owner, as easyHotel felt that it owned as much as it need to in the UK – onwards to franchising.

In mainland Europe there was still an appetite for ownership as it looked to key locations and here the new CEO will be eager for the new owners to come good on their plans to realise the group’s potential and dig deep. With budget competition in Europe growing – and OYO lurking – expect the first fundraising sooner rather than later.

By Katherine Doggrell

Source: Hotel Management

Quest launches inaugural UK hotel

November 2, 2019

Australia’s largest apartment hotel network, Quest Apartment Hotels has extended its international portfolio, launching an inaugural UK property.

The new Quest Liverpool City Centre hotel brings 100 premium serviced apartments to the iconic UK town, serving as the primary point of entry for Quest’s continued expansion in the region.

Over £10m was invested to covert the former commercial office space into a hotel, with management company Cycas Hospitality appointed as independent operating partner.

Quest founder and executive chairman, Paul Constantinou said that while the headwinds brought on by Brexit had introduced some unexpected sector conditions, there was still a growing demand for business travel accommodation.

“There are plenty of serviced apartment operators in the UK, but we have certainly identified an opportunity to grow market share of the apartment hotel sector as a proportion of the overall accommodation market in the UK,” Constantinou said.

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“Quest’s offering targets both extended and short-stay business travellers requiring more than just a standard hotel stay and looking for a genuine home away from home experience. The ability to seamlessly transition between work and home life is at the core of our offering.”

Quest Liverpool City Centre

While the new Liverpool City Centre hotel will be corporately-owned, Constantinou reiterated that franchise operations will commence once critical mass has been achieved.

“The demand for business traveller accommodation, the growing rate of business activity in the UK and the ease of doing business makes Liverpool an ideal location,” Constantinou said.

“Quest Liverpool City Centre is a bellwether for our UK expansion and we look forward to building relationships with the business community in the UK.”

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The key areas for initial franchise exploration have been identified, with Quest looking to target Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and commercial areas of Greater London moving forward.

Paris D’Allessandro, newly appointed general manager of Quest Liverpool City Centre said the brand had a bright future on the UK market.

“Australian hospitality companies carry an international reputation for their professionalism and premium standards. We look forward to working closely with our colleagues at Quest to build the brand in the UK,” D’Allessandro said.

The new Quest Liverpool City Centre is just one of ten new Quest properties opening across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom over the next two years.

By Nick Hall

Source: Franchise Business

EasyHotel makes development progress in three markets

October 27, 2019

Super budget hotel developer and operator easyHotel updated the market on its developments on Wednesday, reporting that at its owned hotel at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, planning permission for the 209-room property had now been granted.

The AIM-traded company said it had secured an operating lease agreement with airport management company Groupe ADP, with the hotel to be let on a 24-year fully repairing and insuring lease at an annual rent of approximately €1.1m.

It said the site was being developed by Linkcity Ile de France – a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction – and construction works would now begin “imminently”, with the new hotel expected to open during the 2021 financial year.

Looking at its franchised hotel development pipeline, in Derby the company confirmed that it had signed a franchise agreement with Ushba for the development of a new 110-room hotel.

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Located close to the city centre and main transport hubs of the city, the hotel was expected to open in 2021.

In Tel Aviv, Israel, easyHotel said it had signed a 20-year exclusive franchise agreement with R&N Services to support the brand’s development in the city.

The agreement included the development of three initial hotels in prime locations across Tel Aviv, totalling 667 rooms.

It added that the hotels were expected to open by late 2022.

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“I am pleased to report further progress against our strategy as we continue to expand our network of super budget hotels in city-centre locations, both in the UK and across international markets,” said chief executive officer Guy Parsons.

“The board believes that the current economic uncertainties will continue to present attractive investment opportunities for the brand and we look forward to announcing further updates in due course.”

By Josh White

Source: ShareCast

Whitbread reports first half drop in pretax profits

October 24, 2019

Whitbread Plc (LON: WTB) have announced a first half drop in pre-tax profit and UK accommodation sales amid a challenging UK leisure and hotel market.

The owners of the Premier Inn franchise speculated about tough political and economic uncertainties driving the drop in profits and sales. Firms such as Marriott (NASDAQ: MAR) and Elegant Hotels (LON: EHG) have merged to stimulate business.

Alison Britain, Chief Executive at the Premier Inn group described the first half performance as ‘resilient’ amid testing times for not just the leisure industry but UK business in general.

She said: “Market conditions in the UK continue to be challenging with business confidence remaining weak and leisure confidence in decline, coinciding with heightened political and economic uncertainty.Whilst the near-term market conditions in the UK remain uncertain, we have confidence in the long-term structural opportunities available in the domestic budget travel markets in the UK and Germany.”

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Britain added “Shorter-term trading conditions in the UK regional market have been difficult, particularly in the business segment where we have a higher proportion of our revenue, whilst trading in London remained strong.”

Adjusted profit before tax slipped by 4.1% to £236 million in the first six months of this year compared to the £246 million figure previously mentioned.

Whitbread sold Costa Coffee to Coca Cola (NYSE: KO) last year in a for £3.9 billion, while completing a £2 billion share buyback in July 2019.

Total UK accommodation sales dropped by 0.6% while like for like sales fell 3.6% following tough domestic market conditions.

The group concluded by saying that there is no way to speculate how business and investment will unfold in 2020, such is the uncertainty of both economic and political relations currently.

Russell Pointon, Consumer and Media Director at Edison Group said: “Market conditions in the UK continue to be challenging with business confidence remaining weak and leisure confidence in decline, coinciding with heightened political and economic uncertainty, which has continued into the third quarter of FY20. This has impacted hotel domestic demand, particularly in the regional market, where 80% of Premier Inn hotels are located. There has also been a greater decline in short-lead discretionary bookings, which tend to be at higher price points.”

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He added “Guidance given in April 2019 for costs, efficiency savings, investment in Germany and revenue sensitivity remain unchanged but it is difficult to predict how business confidence and business investment will evolve in the second half of FY20 and into FY21 and impact demand for short-stay, domestic travel. Whitbread’s business model has a relatively high degree of operating leverage – with every 1% movement in RevPAR, PBT is impacted by £12-15m.”

Currently, shares of Whitbread Plc are trading at 4,185p per share, seeing a 0.43% fall. 22/10/19 10:23BST.

By Ishen Patel

Source: UK Investor Magazine

easyHotel To Review Dividend Policy As Hotels Outperform UK Market

October 20, 2019

easyHotel PLC on Friday said it will consider its dividend policy amid challenging trading conditions which are not expected to improve over the medium-term.

The stock was trading 11% higher in London on Friday in early trade at 110.00 pence a share.

The super-budget hotel chain said total system sales were up 28% in the year to the end of September to GBP47.8 million from GBP37.3 million reported a year ago.

easyHotel highlighted that despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty facing the UK, owned hotels have continued to outperform the UK hotel market on a like-for-like basis.

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easyHotel’s owned hotels like-for-like revenue per available room was up 7.7%, but franchise like-for-like RevPar down 1.6% over its most recent financial year.

“The hotel markets have remained challenging in the second half of the financial year, particularly in the UK where we are seeing dampened consumer confidence. Whilst our owned hotels have continued to outperform the market, we have not been immune to the weaker regional hotel market and trading across our franchised portfolio has continued to be subdued,” said Chief Executive Guy Parsons.

The AIM-listed company reported revenue growth of 56% to GBP17.6 million from GBP11.3 million year-on-year.

easyHotel said it has maintained a “tight” control of costs, but against the challenging trading environment it anticipates adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization closer to GBP4.6 million for the year ended September 30. In comparison, last year, the UK-based company’s adjusted Ebitda totalled GBP3.0 million.

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In addition, easyHotel’s current dividend policy will be reviewed prior to the publication of annual results. The company will consider ending the dividend as it looks to grow its current hotel estate.

“Whilst we don’t foresee any improvement to the trading environment in the medium term, we are focused on our strategic priorities and believe the current economic uncertainties will present attractive investment opportunities to continue to expand our development pipeline in our target destinations, underpinning the long-term growth of the brand,” added Parsons.

By Evelina Grecenko

Source: Morningstar