Opodo reveals job cuts and overhaul of operations

Opodo is to make sweeping redundancies across the business and overhaul its management structure in order to give each regional site responsibility for its own market.

The online travel agency’s new chief executive Ignacio Martos has reversed the existing centralised operation, allowing each country to take control of “commercial and operational decisions as well as for sales and marketing initiatives”, the company said in a statement.

The company has refused to comment on the number of cuts to be made across the business, but sources suggest up to 70 positions have been earmarked for redundancy.

Commerial and product director Sally Balcombe resigned before the Christmas holiday and UK country manager Neil Mott is understood to have left in the past 10 days “by mutual consent”.

Current head of operations Caroline Noble will stand in for Mott until a replacement found, while head of tours Chris Roe quit last week for a new position at Virgin Holidays, as revealed by Travolution earlier this week.

Chief financial officer Gill Robinson will also be replaced after recently leaving the company, a spokeswoman confirmed. The company’s HR director garry Thompson has also left the business.

The developments come just two months into the reign of Martos, Opodo’s sixth chief executive in as many years.

Martos, who joined from Spanish online travel portal Rumbo following the departure of Simon Vincent to run Hilton Hotels in UK and Ireland, said: “Opodo has achieved great success to date to become one of the leading pan-European online travel brands operating in nine markets and with sales of around €1.2 billion for 2006.

“However the Internet is a fast developing medium and in order to be able to react immediately to changing needs and conditions, it is imperative that our markets are able to achieve a high degree of flexibility and autonomy.

Opodo has denied rumours it will switch its emphasis to air operations, saying it would remain focussed on providing flights, hotels and package holidays.

Martos added: “This new structure should better allow us to continue to provide our customers and partners with an excellent online travel service and to deliver a consistently improving financial performance.”

Opodo operates in nine European markets including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

It was created in 2000 by nine major European airlines but has since seen technology giant Amadeus seize a controlling stake in the company.

Opodo said Amadeus is backing the restructuring plan outlined by Martos and remains “fully committed to the success of Opodo”.

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