Hogg Robinson buys Kuoni business travel operations

Hogg Robinson, the business travel group, continued its international expansion yesterday when it paid pounds 300,000 for the business travel interests of continental travel company Kuoni. Hogg Robinson is taking over Kuoni's French and Italian operations, stepping up its rivalry with dominant player American Express.

The deal follows Hogg Robinson's decision to sell its transport interests for pounds 14m earlier this year to concentrate solely on the business travel market.

David Radcliffe, chief executive, said: "Hogg Robinson has already announced its determination to develop further its business travel interests on a global basis and the acquisition of a significant presence in these two key markets is an important ingredient in that process."

Hogg Robinson is now only slightly behind Amex in business travel, with 13 per cent of the market in supplying tailor-made arrangements to suit the travel needs of companies in the UK as well as financial services such as insurance. Hogg Robinson Business Travel International now numbers 6,000 clients within the UK. It is also a founder and managing partner of a worldwide partnership between organisations, Business Travel International (BTI).

The business travel market in the UK alone is estimated to be worth between pounds 5bn and pounds 7bn. It is dominated by three players - Amex, Hogg Robinson and Carlson Wagonlit.

Hogg Robinson controls travel expenditure of approximately pounds 750m. A recent acquisition of a Nordic operation, Bennett's, will allow it to develop markets in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

The moves are part of Mr Radcliffe's corporate strategy set out when he was appointed chief executive in June. The company is aiming to use its contacts within the Business Travel International partnership to rival Amex worldwide. Kuoni will be used to develop business travel operations in Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Hungary.

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