Suzanne Horner chief executive officer Gray Dawes Group

Suzanne Horner, CEO of Grey Dawes Group, talks to BTN Europe about:
• The acquisition of Ventur
• International enlargement plans
• Imminent acquisition of Australian TMC
• Plans for leisure journey
• TMC staffing ranges

The Grey Dawes Group introduced the acquisition of fellow UK-based
travel management company Ventur
this week – its 11th company
takeover thus far – however the firm is now turning its consideration to world

Talking to BTN Europe, Grey Dawes CEO Suzanne Horner stated the deal ought to see its annual
turnover rise to £250 million. “Transaction volumes aren’t again to 2019 ranges however
turnover is,” stated Horner. “That’s pushed by larger costs, with common ticket
worth up round 20 per cent.”

However, she added: “Measurement won’t be so vital to us –
it’ll be extra concerning the world image.”

The TMC has resigned from its membership of Radius – the
community of greater than 130 impartial businesses worldwide, and the largest
network in Europe
– and “the plan now’s to construct our personal world platform,” stated

These plans are properly superior. The corporate has signed heads
of phrases with an company in Australia that’s “barely larger than Ventur, has
a fantastic repute, and it’ll give us a fantastic foothold there”.

Horner continued: “We’re additionally having robust conversations in
North America and Asia. We’re hoping to be within the US by the tip of the yr and
then in a short time usher in Asia.

“Our purchasers more and more need world options, even the
smaller ones. They’re taking us on the journey. We’ve a dozen purchasers who
would work with us within the US immediately.”

The TMC’s out-of-hours service is already resourced in Australia,
“so with the addition of one thing within the US we’d have a follow-the-sun arrange”.

“We’ve been very profitable selecting up companies within the UK
and integrating them. We all know how to do this properly. Now we’re going to do this
abroad,” stated Horner. Grey Dawes’ choice is for wholly owned companies
abroad however it is going to think about share of possession.

Grey Dawes is owned by the rich Inchcape household whose belongings
contains the Glenapp Property in Scotland, property and a shares and shares
portfolio. “We was the smallest cog within the wheel after I began at Grey Dawes
however now we’re the most important,” stated Horner.

We’ll by no means say no to a different [UK] TMC acquisition… however what we are able to’t do is get side-tracked. The main target now’s our world proposition”

She didn’t rule out additional acquisitions within the UK,
explaining that turning into a “prime 10, prime 12 TMC” and retaining its independence
are the priorities. It was ranked 13th largest TMC in the UK in Europe’s
Main TMCs 2022.

“Sports activities, occasions and leisure is fascinating. We’ll by no means say
no to a different TMC acquisition but when a leisure alternative got here up we’d
positively have a look at it,” stated Horner. “However what we are able to’t do is get side-tracked.
The main target now’s our world proposition. Our efforts are concentrated there.”

Leisure journey progress
With the acquisition of Ventur, Grey Dawes can be inheriting
a excessive road journey company in Harrogate. It’s the solely a part of the corporate
which can retain the Ventur title – the model can be retired for company clients
within the subsequent 4 to 6 weeks.

“We’ll take the Grey Dawes leisure journey and put it in
there,” stated Horner. “It’s our ambition to develop the leisure enterprise, most likely
by way of an impartial guide mannequin. I don’t see us opening extra excessive
road businesses.”

Grey Dawes’ leisure enterprise at the moment accounts for 3 to
4 per cent of the group’s income, a determine that, with the addition of
Ventur, can be at most eight per cent. “It could be good to develop that to £25 million
– 10 per cent of the general enterprise. The peaks and troughs of leisure journey
will complement enterprise journey properly,” defined Horner.

Sealing the Ventur deal
The acquisition, the worth of which was not disclosed, was
accomplished comparatively swiftly. “We fairly rapidly acquired a deal collectively as soon as we
heard [they were interested in selling], and we had been engaged on it for under a
couple of months. It’s an asset buy,” stated Horner. “The worth was nice
for each events. Each events are proud of the deal – you don’t need anybody

The household that owned Ventur has a big property
portfolio and needed to discover a new residence for its journey enterprise, stated Horner,
who drew parallels between the 2 TMCs. “Ventur is comparatively small, as we
was, and it was family-owned with a fantastic repute, nice buyer
service and actually loyal workers. Lots of similarities.”

Ventur workers have all been transitioned to the Atriis
desktop and “are actually loving that,” stated Horner, as they transfer from a GDS-based
surroundings. “They don’t want to go looking a number of sources of content material anymore –
that’s our duty, delivering the content material – plus invoicing is
automated, profiles are there…”

Prospects, in the meantime, will see “higher high quality of content material,
extra environment friendly processes and higher shopping for energy. They’ll have a distinct
expertise however we’ll take it slowly with them”.

Staffing conditions
All everlasting Ventur workers have been retained by Grey Dawes
and all their advantages protected, stated Horner. “Our primary precedence is
getting workers settled and ensuring they’re completely satisfied. The very last thing you need is
individuals leaving after an acquisition.”

The necessity to retain workers is much more pertinent within the
present panorama of workers shortages throughout the journey business, and notably
amongst journey administration firms. Requested how Grey Dawes is faring on this regard, Horner stated
the corporate is “recruiting, however not in a frenzy”.

“We made redundancies proper at the start [of the
pandemic] – about 17 per cent [of staff] by August 2020. However when everybody made
extra redundancies the next yr we selected to not. The prices concerned in making
individuals redundant after which recruiting afterward… realistically the most effective factor to
do was to maintain workers on furlough and take the wage hit. However then after all
the extension of furlough was nice for us in that scenario – it eliminated six
months of prices for us.”

The acquisition of Ventur, with its workplaces in Edinburgh and
Leeds, offers Grey Dawes “the chance to recruit in Scotland” and reestablishes its
presence in Yorkshire having closed its personal workplace there firstly of the

Sooner or later, with a footprint in additional locations, the
firm intends to present workers the chance to go and work in one other of its
places for a yr. “The pandemic has taught us lots and high quality of life is
one of the crucial vital classes,” stated Horner.


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