With more breathing space at home, Airtours is wisely concentrating on expanding its empire overseas. Last year over half its pounds 818m sales came from outside the UK compared with only a tiny proportion three years ago. Spreading its geographical wings has been an excellent strategy. With Airtours, Thompson and First Choice already accounting for over 60 per cent of the UK tour market, there is little more to do here. Not so in Airtours' newer territories. A big contributor to the group's dramatic 45 per cent reduction in losses to pounds 12.7m in the half-year to March was a move to profit in Scandanavia as acquisitions were turned around.
Mr Crossland wants another country in Europe - Germany looks a possibility. The potential to grow in North America look even greater.
Airtours is also diversifying fast from bog-standard tour packages to time share and counter-seasonal businesses like cruises.
Analysts have upgraded full-year forecasts by around pounds 5m to pounds 120m, putting the group on a rating of around 17 times, with the shares up 30p at 974.5p, a chunky premium to the market. The near-tripling in the share price over 12 months has been on hopes that 29.6 per cent shareholder Carnival will swoop. That might happen when Mr Crossland retires, but at 49, he looks as vital as ever. A good company, but the shares are a hold.Reuse content