Aldi Travel suspends holiday bookings

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The Independent Online

Aldi Travel has stopped taking bookings, but the company says it is only reviewing the packages on offer and is not pulling the plug on its holiday business.

The UK subsidiary of the German budget supermarket group says that all arrangements already in place will go ahead as planned. But the massive changes to the sector over the past year, as recession led to heavy cost-cutting and discounting, has left it needing to make sure that the deals on offer are the best to be had.

A spokesman confirmed that Aldi Travel would start taking bookings again, but was not able to say when. "Aldi Travel proved popular with customers and sales have performed well throughout 2009," the spokesman said. "However, the UK travel market is becoming increasingly competitive and we are working in consultation with existing partners to make sure we can continue to offer market-leading deals."

The discount supermarket group has been selling holidays since 2003. It launched the dedicated travel business to much fanfare in November 2008, with the promise of worldwide package holidays for bargain-basement prices. A week after its launch, the service ranked as one of the 10 most popular UK travel websites.

Aldi fared well in the recession and sales shot up by 26 per cent in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. UK managing director left the company Paul Foley left "by mutual consent" in August 2009, after nearly a decade at the helm.