Franchise deal secures future for travel agency

The tie-up sees the business founded seven years ago by Don Bircham and Mark Johnson officially become a First Choice Partner, and the shops rebranded as First Choice Travel Shops.

icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk
January 3, 2007

Franchise deal secures future for travel agency
David Jones

JUST Go, the fourth largest independent travel agent in the UK, with 16 shops in the North West of England and North Wales, has struck a six-figure franchise deal with leading international leisure travel company First Choice.

The tie-up sees the business founded seven years ago by Don Bircham and Mark Johnson officially become a First Choice Partner, and the shops rebranded as First Choice Travel Shops.

But the two founders are retaining 100% ownership of the business and believe there is scope, with backing from First Choice, for further expansion.

Mr Bircham said: "We took a long strategic review of where the whole travel industry was going. It is getting more and more difficult out there for the independents.

"After careful consideration we felt the First Choice Franchise Partnership was a very good option as it offered us long-term security, commercial strength and product availability, while allowing us to retain a high level of autonomy.

"We did have the offer to sell Just Go to First Choice or to one or two other major players, but we felt the franchise partnership gave us the best of both worlds, allowing us to retain ownership of the business but creating a tie-up with a strong brand that will give us a long-term future."

He added that he expected the business to retain "at least 50%" of its business with other travel operators and providers such as Air Tours and Cosmos.

Mr Johnson said: "We were First Choice's first franchise partner and they wanted growth in the North West area. Negotiations had been on-going since February last year.

"We envisage a period of consolidation initially as it might take three to six months to bed in under our new brand. But we do see opportunities for further expansion of the business, and First Choice are very keen for us to do that."


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