NEW long-haul destinations from Scottish airports helped holiday firm Barrhead Travel grow sales by almost a fifth last year despite low wage rises affecting prices.
The Glasgow-headquartered travel agency yesterday reported a record financial performance for 2013, with turnover up 18.2 per cent to £192 million.
Passenger numbers increased by 13.2 per cent to 245,000, and the group reported a positive start to 2014, with sales up 20 per cent year-to-date.
Chief executive Sharon Munro said the company was forging on with an “ambitious growth strategy” even though the economic environment remained tough.
She said: “In some respects, the worst of the recession may be over but wages and salaries are not keeping pace with gross domestic product and overcapacity in the marketplace has contributed to holding selling prices down.
“Despite the decline in the cruise market, our long-haul business is especially prosperous, particularly in Scotland where we saw the launch of several new routes from Scottish airports. The introduction of fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will also make long-haul travel more affordable and attractive.”
Munro said the declining value of the euro against the pound was making the continent especially popular as a destination. Yet, despite the dollar strengthening against the pound, America is also selling well.
She added: “In 2013 especially, and continuing into 2014, we invested heavily in training and developing our teams and attracting new names to drive forward our vision. This strategy has paid dividends in retaining the best staff and showing a healthy increase in repeat customers.”
The firm, which was set up Munro’s father in 1975, opened eight stores last year, as well as redeveloping its websites and restructuring its IT infrastructure.
It now operates from 54 UK locations, with a workforce of around 800.