Co-operative Travel has reported a modest profit for the first half of financial 2010 despite branding 2010 the “most challenging year” in the travel industry.
The tour operator – part of the wider Co-operative Group – saw profits fall 70 per cent to just £0.4 million for the 26 weeks to July 3rd.
Sales also fell, down by 6.6 per cent to £126m.
Co-operative travel cited a range of factors for the fall in sales, including heavy snow that stalled the traditional early booking period, and continued with an earthquake in Chile, riots in Bangkok, civil unrest in Greece, and strikes at British Airways.
Finally the “unprecedented” volcanic eruption in Iceland also took a financial toll.
“This is the worst year for trading in my memory, so to emerge with a profitable performance is pleasing although clearly there is a lot of work to be done,” said managing director Mike Greenacre.
“Margins remain under severe pressure in what is a fiercely competitive market, and it is a testament to the dedication and commitment of everyone at the Co-operative Travel that we have remained profitable in this incredibly difficult year.”
A number of travel company failures this year have also dented confidence, added Mr Greenacre.
The wider Co-operative group faired slightly better, with revenue up eight per cent to £6.9bn.
Underlying group operating profit also increased 14 per cent to £307 million.
“The Co-operative Group has delivered another strong performance over the past six months, with continued growth in both revenue and underlying profits - the result of our strategy of investment in our businesses, our brand and our people,” explained group chief executive Peter Marks.
“Over the last three years the Co-operative Group has been transformed, underlining the strength of our ownership model which allows us to invest through economic cycles, in the long-term interests of our members and our customers.”