School trips firm expands reach

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School trips company Holidaybreak is to acquire half of German firm Meininger

The owner of school trips firm NST has expanded its list of destinations with a £31 million deal for 50% of a Berlin-based company.

Holidaybreak, which also owns summer camps arm PGL and operations in adventure travel, hotel breaks and camping, said Meininger had ten city centre sites near cultural locations, including in Cologne, Frankfurt, Vienna, London and Munich.

With a further five sites expected to open in 2011, Holidaybreak said the acquisition would help it become the leading brand in the European school trips market covering major destinations such as Paris, London and Milan.

Holidaybreak has seen steady growth from its education division, with new PGL centres at Liddington in Wiltshire and Windmill Hill on the Sussex Downs helping operating profits rise 16% to £15.8 million in the year to September 30.

Across the group, Holidaybreak said pre-tax profits rose 9% to £30.7 million as the education arm offset a drop in profits in its London hotel breaks division due to January’s extreme weather and tough economic conditions.

Despite the 8% drop in hotel profits to £11.5 million, Holidaybreak said it continued to benefit from demand for popular theatre shows such as Lion King, Wicked and We Will Rock You, plus the upcoming production of the Wizard of Oz.

In the Eurocamp and Keycamp division, flooding in the Cote d’Azur in June resulted in the loss of 74 mobile homes and 22 tents and impacted the division’s profits by £1.2 million, reducing the figure by 8.5% to £11.7 million.

Holidaybreak said its adventure travel arm continued its recovery from recession with a 12% increase in annual operating profits to £4.7 million.

The company said the acquisition of Meininger included the option to acquire the remaining shares over the next two to three years.

Holidaybreak chief executive Martin Davies added: “Our goal is to become the leading brand in the European school trips market, covering all the major destinations such as Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Milan. Meininger takes us a step closer to that goal.”

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