Thomas Cook buys Gold Medal for up to £87m

Thomas Cook has bought long-haul tour operator Gold Medal International, paying £24.9m upfront, and up to a further £62.1m as an earn-out. The acquisition depends on competition clearance and is expected to be completed early next year.Preston-based Gold Medal, which employs 500 staff, is solely owned by founder Ken Townsley. Started in 1984, it supplies scheduled flights and accommodation to 1,500 destinations worldwide, with a strong focus on the US, the Middle East, Far East and Australasia. Its brands include Gold Medal, Netflights.com and Pure Luxury.

The business posted pre-tax profits of £5.3m for the year to March 31, on revenues of £300.2m. It is expected to make underlying profits of £9m this financial year.

The company said Gold Medal’s management team would continue to lead the business with Mr Townsley as president. The day-to-day running of the company is led by chief executive Terry Fisher and chief financial officer Steve Bacon, who joined in 2006 and transformed Gold Medal from a loss-making business.

Manny Fontenla-Novoa, group chief executive of Thomas Cook, said: “The acquisition of Gold Medal is a very good opportunity to strengthen significantly our position in the important independent travel sector. Through Gold Medal, we have access to excellent product, great technology and highly experienced travel experts.”

Gold Medal is the UK’s fourth largest tour operator and has carried 420,000 passengers this year on scheduled flights.

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Mr Fisher said the deal would open new routes to market for Gold Medal through Thomas Cook’s 800 shops.
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