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Gary Lewis: ‘The buyout allows us to be more entrepreneurial than before’


YOU NEED TO KNOW


AT A GLANCE Members’ reactions


l James Cole, managing director of World Travel Holdings UK, which joined TTNG in May 2015, said: “One of the key reasons for joining was the enthusiasm, passion and experience of the TTNG management team led by Gary Lewis. We were so pleased to hear the news.”


l Premier Travel group managing director Susan Papworth said: “This is fantastic news for TTNG with whom we work very closely. We have an excellent relationship with the management team and have seen the business grow.”


TTNG pledges to drive the group forward after MBO


Hollie-Rae Merrick hollie@travelweekly.co.uk


The Travel Network Group has pledged to embody the “entrepreneurial spirit” of its members following a management buyout of the travel agency group.


TTNG, the parent organisation


of Worldchoice and the Travel Trust Association, had previously been owned by private equity firm Alcuin Capital Partners since 2007. The 850-member consortium


would not confirm how much the buyout was worth, but said the money had been raised through “personal investment, bank funding and private equity”. The deal sees Gary Lewis, previously group managing


director, become chief executive. Lewis said he and the other four members of the management team – Si Prentice, Lisa Henning, Avril Hurd and Vim Vithaldas – owned 85% of the holding company behind TTNG. The other 15% is owned by an undisclosed private equity firm. As a result of the deal, Simon


Hargreaves has stepped down as the group’s chairman. The management team may introduce a new chairman in the future. Alcuin had had a five-year


strategy and planned an exit by 2012. Lewis said the team had been working towards a buyout for the past three years and admitted the management team and Alcuin had not been “aligned on some decisions” in the past couple of years.


4 travelweekly.co.uk 21 January 2016


“The MBO enables the team to put members at the centre of everything we do”


He said TTNG was financially


sound, as the deal removed “private equity debt and stabilised the business completely”. “Our members were central to this decision,” said Lewis. “We want to be able to run the business in the best way for our members and the buyout allows us to be more entrepreneurial than before. We’re really excited about what’s to come. “The right people own this company on behalf of our members. The previous private equity firm wasn’t too involved day to day but that kind of business


l Crusader Travel director Hedda Lyons said: “We were very happy to hear the news. It’s a good thing. We have been members of TTA for a long time and like that we will continue to work with the same team.”


has very different agendas to our own. To have ownership and management means we can drive the business forward without any hindrance.” Lewis said the consortium had a


complex business model and that the management team were best placed to lead the consortium. He said members could “place their trust” in the management team. “We are able to now be more like


our members in that they have a very entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “We believe the change is


essential to continue to maintain the professionalism, the required investment and determination to deliver for our members. The MBO will bring continued stability to our group and will enable the management team to put members at the centre of everything we do.”


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