Carlson Companies, Inc. Continues Global Expansion

Carlson Companies, Inc., an international leader in the corporate and consumer travel, hospitality and relationship marketing industries, marked 1999 with solid growth of its corporate and consumer businesses, record-breaking sales generated by its brands systemwide, and bold expansion into the burgeoning dot-com arena.

The results include the best year ever for Carlson Marketing Group®, several new agreements with large clients by Carlson Wagonlit Travel®, the addition of 170 new locations by Carlson Hospitality Worldwide brands, and Carlson Leisure Group`s completion of a merger of its United Kingdom leisure travel interests with Thomas Cook, the international leisure travel leader.

The company announced today that 1999 gross systemwide sales under Carlson-related brands reached a record-breaking $31.4 billion, compared with $22 billion in 1998. The 1999 merger of Carlson`s leisure travel business in the United Kingdom with Thomas Cook operations there account for a majority of the increase. (Systemwide sales are a measure of brand strength, and are calculated by including all of the sales made under Carlson-related brands, whether through owned, joint-ventured or franchised operations. The $31.4 billion includes Thomas Cook`s travel and tour sales only, and does not include nearly $21 billion in travelers` checks and financial services sales.)

Carlson`s gross company-owned sales totaled $9.8 billion, compared with $7.8 billion in 1998, $6.6 billion in 1997 and $4.9 billion in 1996.

Five years ago, less than 5 percent of the company`s systemwide sales came from outside the United States, according to Carlson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Marilyn Carlson Nelson. Today, well over 50 percent of systemwide sales are delivered by operations outside the United States. The company is continuing to enhance technology to redefine its market position as a business-to-business and business-to-consumer leader worldwide.


Carlson Companies is among the largest privately held companies in the United States, and it has operations in more than 140 countries. Carlson brands provide employment for about 188,000 people worldwide. The number of people who work at U.S. and international locations that Carlson owns, manages and/or operates is about 63,000. Carlson Companies employs about 9,000 people in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

Curtis L. Carlson (1914-1999) established the company on a borrowed $55 in 1938 as the Gold Bond Stamp Company, which grew to become one of the leaders of the then-popular trading stamp industry. Through expansion and diversification, the company has enjoyed steady growth throughout its 60+-year history.

Today the Carlson family of brands includes Carlson Marketing Group®, Carlson Wagonlit Travel®, Thomas Cook, Regent® International Hotels, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson®, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises®, T.G.I. Friday`s® restaurants, and 24k Gold Points RewardsSM, a new e-commerce initiative.