Blog:

The travel growth league: who were last year’s winners?

10 March 2020

The Travel growth league: who were last year's winners?

The BDO growth league is based on the highest turnover growth among the largest 100 ATOL holders in the UK. Turnover growth is measured by the three years compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Congratulations to TravelUp, Loveholidays and Emirates Holidays who make up our top three in 2019 with impressive three year revenue CAGRs of 75%, 64% and 58% respectively.

A look back on last year’s results
Loveholidays topped our growth league last year with a three year CAGR of 95%. We predicted in 2018 that Loveholidays would keep its place in our top three and it hasn’t disappointed. Despite falling one place to second, it remains one of the fastest growing travel companies in the UK with a three year CAGR of 64%. While some operators have experienced flat or negative YoY bookings in 2019, Loveholidays has continued to drive strong booking growth. With its continued strong momentum, it will be no surprise if Loveholidays is a permanent fixture in our top three for many years to come.

TravelUp has moved up one place last year and tops our 2019 growth league. Not only has TravelUp taken the top spot in our growth league but its impressive growth also won it a place on The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list of Britain’s fastest-growing companies. The Company is said to be assessing its options which include a possible IPO or partial sale.

In 2018 we reported that despite being the third largest ATOL holder (at the time), Thomas Cook missed out on the top 50 with a negative CAGR of 5%. It’s a disappointing end to one of the UKs oldest and most well-known travel companies, however, its three million passengers will now have to look elsewhere for their travel requirements which will present the other operators with a big opportunity for future passenger volume growth.

Tour operators continue to impress
Two years ago we discussed how despite the strong growth of UK OTAs and offline to online channel shift, tour operators were experiencing strong growth. In 2019, tour operators have continued to impress.

Jet2 has a three year CAGR of 39% (up from 31% last year) and has made it into the top five by rising one place on 2018. ITC, the luxury tailor-made specialist, has risen two places from ninth to seventh with a CAGR of 23% (20% in 2018). Newmarket keeps its place in the top ten and has risen one spot to sixth place in 2019’s growth league.

Newmarket has recently appointed Niel Alobaidi as its new CEO. Niel was instrumental in driving the impressive growth of Emirates Holidays and it will be exciting to see where he can take Newmarket. A top five position in our growth league is not far away. Hays Travel has again performed well with a CAGR of 7%. It has recently acquired 555 former Thomas Cook shops, we estimate this to be worth c£1bn in revenue, and this will help Hays drive future growth and capture its share of the three million ex Thomas Cook passengers.

It was a great year for Dnata and its range of brands. Emirates Holidays has risen two places from fifth to third with an extremely strong CAGR of 58% (36% in 2018). Travelbag and Travel2, both Dnata owned brands, have made it into the top 15 last year with CAGRs of 22% and 15% respectively (10% & 11% in 2018 respectively).

A warm welcome to the new entrants in this year’s growth league
We welcomed 11 new entrants to our growth league last year. Travelpack, the privately owned luxury and tailor-made OTA, debuted in at eighth place with a CAGR of 22%. Other notable new entrants include Exodus, the adventure travel specialist which is part of the Travelopia group of brands, in at 14th place with a CAGR of 16%. Disney has debuted in 26th place with a CAGR of 13%. Cruise.co, one of the UK leading Cruise OTAs backed by Bridgepoint Development Capital, has entered the growth league in 26th place with a CAGR of 26%.

Read the latest Travel Diaries for further insight into the Travel Market.
Explore our travel and tourism services 
Explore our M&A services

Tom Urquhart
Senior Manager / M&A
+44 (0)20 7893 3852 (DDI)
[email protected]