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Thomas Cook sells retail travel biz

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Monday 11th December 2000

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Aussie-listed travel franchise Harvey World Travel has scooped up the Thomas Cook retail travel business in Australia and New Zealand.

The purchase - which includes a network of 97 company-owned travel shops, a call centre and a travel insurance claims handling business - will almost double the company's business in New Zealand and significantly expand its Australian operation.

Post-acquisition Harvey World will have a worldwide network of 559 outlets with turnover of more than A$1.25 billion a year.

Costs associated with the purchase are not expected to exceed A$10 million and will be funded by way of bank borrowings and existing cash reserves.

Although one-off operating expenses will reduce the profitability forecast in the company's prospectus, HWT boss Paul Fleming, says merging the Thomas Cook's business into HWT will be "an integral component in our growth."

"This will take HWT to the next level. It will cement the company's presence and our profile as number one in travel in Australia. Success in this industry is all about distribution - and this move offers significant growth for HWT throughout Australia and ensures we now have greater geographical coverage in New Zealand."

The acquisition will also significantly increase the foreign exchange arrangements that are currently in place between HWT and Thomas Cook Foreign Exchange, with the number of bureaux increasing from three to 86 in Australia and New Zealand combined.

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