Travel Republic boss Kane Pirie says it was the firm’s leading edge technology that helped it clinch the deal with Dnata, the travel agency subsidiary of Emirates.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly Group editor Lucy Huxley, Pirie said the deal will see the Travel Republic brand launched in India and the Middle East.
He said Dnata, which to date has been purely on offline player, will now have an online presence with Travel Republic’s market-leading in-house technology.
“The key thing about our technology is that it works,” Pirie said. “A lot of people assume that if you throw enough developers and money at your technology, that’s the answer, but it doesn’t work like that, especially on volumes like ours.
“We have two million people booking through us every year, so the technology has got to work.”
As well as expansion overseas, Pirie said he expects Travel Republic to continue to grow in the UK as it continues to take mainstream market share from the big two, Tui Travel and Thomas Cook.
“For us, it will mean three things. We will continue to expand in the UK where we are gaining more and more market share from the likes of Cook and Tui which are moving away from mass market beach holidays to more differentiated products.
“It will accelerate our expansion into Western Europe – we went live in Italy and Spain six months ago and we’ll go live in Germany at the end of this month and in France by the end of the year.
“And by working with Dnata, we’ll speed up the rate at which we can expand into India and the Middle East.”
Pirie confirmed that he and fellow owners, Paul Furner and Chris Waite were on a five-year earn out and said there were no plans to change the management.
“Dnata will put people on the board, but I will remain managing director,” he said.
Following concern expressed by staff about the deal after news broke online, Pirie said he had been able to reassure them that their jobs were safe.
He said: “I’ve spoken to every member of staff and they are very happy because they understand that this deal places Travel Republic into the safest place we could have put the business.
“They’re reassured this is good news. I have never made anyone redundant and don’t intend to do so.”
Pirie added that the company did not need to do the deal to grow but that it had been looking to bring in investment for some time to accelerate its international plans.
“Travel Republic has never needed external finance to fund its trading activities and doesn’t expect it ever will because it’s very profitable and highly cash generative. We made £10m [pre-tax] profit last year and total turnover this year ending in March will be over £400 million.
“We’ve had aspirations for a long time to bring an investor into the business and we were very impressed with Dnata. It’s a very forward-thinking and ambitious company.”