FLIGHT Centre Limited (FLT) has formed a joint venture with global operator Intrepid Travel to create Australia’s largest specialist adventure and experiential retail travel chain.
Under the agreement, Intrepid will transfer its existing retail shops in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth along with the rights to participate in Auckland to the joint venture, and FLT will provide $2.4 million in growth capital to fast-track new shop rollout in the specialist brand.
The joint venture’s shops will continue to trade under the Intrepid banner and will offer Intrepid’s full product range, airfares and a broad selection of FLT travel product.
New shops will be rolled out in key locations Australia-wide over the next 18 months.
FLT acting chief executive officer Shannon O’Brien says the investment is in line with the company’s strategy of expanding in niche sectors, while continuing to build its established travel businesses.
"Adventure travel continues to increase in popularity as travellers seek new experiences and to make the most of a limited amount of holiday time," he says.
"The strength of the Australian dollar, near full employment and the availability of cheap international airfares are also contributing to the healthy growth in this sector.
"Our partnership with Intrepid will allow us to build our presence in this specialised area, in addition to providing adventure travellers with an improved service offering built around Flight Centre and Intrepid’s respective strengths."
Both companies will own 50 per cent of the venture and will have two representatives on the joint board.
The deal relates solely to Intrepid’s retail travel business and will not affect its wholesale operations.
At the same time, FLT’s wholesales business and its ongoing growth plans with existing Flight Centre, Escape Travel, Travel Associates, Student Flights and Cruiseabout leisure travel brands, will not be affected.
Intrepid Travel cofounder and CEO Darrell Wade says the partnership will allow Intrepid to build on its success in experiential adventure travel.
"This joint venture will fast-track the Intrepid retail division’s growth and will deliver additional expertise, knowledge and retail best practice to the business," he says.
"Our agreement brings together two leading Australian travel industry players with similar corporate cultures and beliefs and an aligned vision of high service and quality experience."
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