Flight Centre spreads wings in Ireland

ASX-listed firm makes first international acquisition in seven years with $2m buy in Ireland.

In its first international acquisition in seven years, Flight Centre has bought a Dublin-based corporate travel management company, flagging it could also launch a retail travel business in Ireland in a further strengthening of its European business.

The ASX-listed travel retailer paid about 1.4 million ($2.1m) for Ireland’s Travelplan Corporate, which employs about 50 staff.

Flight Centre chief executive Graham Turner said the acquisition was a cost-effective, profitable and a low-risk entry to Ireland, which is an important hub for corporate clients.

“In particular, we can see great potential in developing close ties between Flight Centre’s UK and Ireland corporate travel businesses and implementing the strategies that have underpinned the company’s success in the UK,” Mr Turner said.

“There is potential to launch a retail travel business in Ireland in the future to operate alongside the local corporate travel businesses, mirroring the strategy we have successfully adopted in Asia and the Middle East in recent years.”

Mr Turner said he knew the Travelplan business and culture well, given its longstanding involvement with FCm corporate travel business as a licensee.

“I can see real opportunities to work with Travelplan’s people to expand in the years ahead and to grow bottom-line profits.”

Travelplan Corporate, which is expected to turn over nearly 30m this calendar year, was a ­licensee of FCm Travel Solutions travel management created by Flight Centre in 2004.

Following the Irish acquisition from the Dublin-based Abbey Travel Group, Flight ­Centre will be represented in 12 countries including Britain, the US and China.

The Irish acquisition is the first international expansion for Flight Centre since the company launched FCm corporate travel business seven years ago.