Webjet has spread its network into Europe with the acquisition of Majorca-based online hotel provider SunHotels, with the deal expected to strengthen both its business to business and consumer offerings.
SunHotels, established in 2002, specialises in providing hotels and transfers in European resort destinations to businesses in the UK and Scandinavia. It has an annual turnover of approximately $130 million.
The deal, based on an agreed value of 21 million euro (AU$30.45m) is expected to create an “important cornerstone platform” to extend Webjet’s product sourcing and distribution opportunities.
Managing director John Guscic told Travel Today that Webjet has been seeking an opportunity to make an acquisition in the European B2B space for around two years.
“We’ve gone through in forensic detail every opportunity that’s come our way and pursued some that didn’t come our way,” he said.
“We liked these guys because they have got valuable accommodation inventory that is not easily replicated. The inventory they have is beach hotel inventory which is very, very difficult to acquire.”
The 6,000 strong hotel supply will be made available via Webjet, Zuji and its Middle East B2B platform Lots of Hotels, Guscic confirmed.
Although he revealed that Lots of Hotels, launched as an “organic start-up” in February last year, is performing well and its now operational in 20 markets, the model was not considered appropriate for Europe.
“Europe is a much more mature market and we knew would need to make an acquisition to get a position in the market,” he said.
“From that position, subject to the various conditions that in this case are very favourable, we have an expectation that we would grow that business.”
Guscic said Webjet is now “ideally placed” to extend its B2B operations across a number of regions, and flagged the possibility that it could come to Australia.
“The B2B focus is a global opportunity that we are exploring, so we’ve got the Middle East and Africa through Lots of Hotels and now we have SunHotels in Europe,” he said.
“There will be a natural expansion as we build a global technology platform with a global supply of hotel product that we can sell globally. So that could come to Australia.”
Meanwhile, SunHotels’s management team was described as “fully committed and enthusiastic” about the potential growth opportunities created by the deal.
“The SunHotels group is delighted to be a part of the Webjet family,” managing director Kenneth Karlsson said. “We are looking forward to being the growth engine for Webjet’s European expansion.”