Intrepid forecasts strong US, UK growth

Intrepid forecasts strong US, UK growth
By admin

Intrepid Travel's new managing director has set his sights on doubling the operator's turnover with the US and Europe to drive growth over the next few years.

While Australia sales will continue to rise, James Thornton predicted the operator's major growth will come from the northern hemisphere.

Australia makes up approximatey 50% of Intrepid's sales, with Thornton suggesting that could fall to a third as its US and European operations expand.

"We should come close in 2013 to $150 million turnover which is pretty sizeable from where we have come from," he said. "I see no reason over the next three to five years why we can't double that.

"North America in particular has been a huge growth channel, both in the US and Canada," he continued. "We are aggressively over-investing in those markets to continue to stimulate that growth. Australia has a population of 22 million and represents around half of our revenue. The UK has a 60 million population and the US 250 million so we are only scratching the surface. There is no reason why we can't get strong growth from those markets."

Not that Australia will stagnate, he added, stressing that outbound travel has "boomed" in the last three months.

"We need Australia to perform but in terms of chunky growth, I see that coming more from the northern hemisphere," he said.

Thornton took the managing director role in October taking over from Geoff Manchester, one of Intrepid's founders. It is the first time the company has been led by anyone other than Manchester and his business partner Darrell Wade.

Thornton denied he was intimidated at leading a business in which the founders are still so closely involved, Manchester as the director of PEAK Adventure Travel Group and Wade its chief executive.

Thornton said the presence of the founders will enable him to bounce ideas off them.

"I am inheriting a pretty impressive business so I want to continue the legacy of innovation that has been established by Darrell and Manchester," he said. "They are incredibly respectful and have given me the support to make the changes I think we need to make to ensure our ongoing growth.

"The guys put their ultimate trust in key management personnel to run the business and I am solely accountable for the performance of the business.

"I have a three to five year vision and they have given me the autonomy to make that happen."

Not that 31-year-old Thornton is a stranger to the business. He has been with the company for seven years, the last four in his native UK as global sales and marketing director.

Thornton said he wanted to drive innovation in terms of "product, distribution and responsible tourism" as well as ensure the "overall commercialisation of the business".

The operator has recently focused on new food and family products, the latter in collaboration with UK-based The Adventure Company, part of PEAK.

"We are looking to leverage greater relationships and explore opportunities within PEAK and starting to work closer with some of our sister companies," he said. "We can take product that potentially we don't offer and drive them through our global distribution network."


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