A leading Scottish holidays firm has ridden out the economic slowdown and Brexit uncertainty to strike another record year of sales.
Barrhead Travel announced yesterday that “despite a Brexit-led dent in consumer confidence” the group saw turnover climb £12.7 million to £279.2m in 2016. The group also forecast a further improved performance this year “especially as there has been an inclement Scottish summer which has boosted late holiday bookings”.
Barrhead Travel’s pre-tax profits fell £300,000 to £2.8m in 2016, but this was after a £500,000 investment in opening its new Newcastle store, as well as a further £350,000 on improved customer-facing technology.
Group chief executive Sharon Munro said: “I am delighted to report that 2016 was another successful year. Despite the continuing challenging economic climate and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, we have seen both excellent growth and performance in 2016 resulting in a record sales year for the company and continued healthy operating profits.”
Barrhead said its top selling destinations in 2016 were Costa Blanca, Lanzarote, Palma, Tenerife and Orlando, with Florida the top long-haul destination.
The group added that the number of travellers going to Cuba surged 76 per cent, while other large-scale rises were New York (+49 per cent), Thailand (+48 per cent), Costa Dorada (+34 per cent) and Calgary, ahead 29 per cent.
The Glasgow-headquartered company said revenues last year were boosted by its expansion in England. Following on from the new Newcastle outlet, Barrhead opened another site in Leicester this year.
Staff numbers have now broken through the 1,000 mark and the business said it plans to have recruited 85 new staff members, a mixture of head office and branch staff, by the end of this year.
In line with various industries increasing use of robotics, Barrhead, which was founded in 1975, said that “artificial intelligence” was also being introduced into its stores and online.
It said: “This will be used to help sales consultants as it will be able to answer questions the consultants do not have readily to hand.
“Many personalised marketing functions are already in place thanks to previous investments. However, artificial intelligence will take this to a new level and will improve conversion and make for a more enjoyable experience for customers on and offline.”