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New Zealand

Stella Travel's wholesale operations face shake-up  Sep 08, 2008

Another shake-up is expected at one of New Zealand's largest travel agency businesses as tougher times put the squeeze on the industry.

Stella Travel Services, which rebranded its Holiday Shoppe franchise to Harvey World Travel at the weekend, is reviewing its wholesale operations with a view to cost-cutting.

New Zealand general manager Stephen Humphreys said the move had been driven by concerns about whether its present wholesale model made strategic sense and to ensure it was meeting demand from the retail side of the business.

The firm owns New Zealand's largest wholesale travel business, Gullivers Holidays, as well as another wholesale operation called Go Holidays which it acquired in 2005.

The wholesale operations supply products and services to travel agencies throughout New Zealand including the group's Harvey World Travel and United Travel franchises.

Industry sources have pointed to a likely merger of the two businesses under the Go Holidays brand. But Humphreys said the proposed changes did not involve a merger although the review could put in place one operating centre with commercial arms dedicated to specific customer types.

The proposal was put to staff last week and the company is looking to make decisions by September 15.

Humphreys said redundancies were possible but that the number was likely to be less than 10.

Stella Travel Services has had a difficult year with a majority stake in its parent company, Stella Group, sold to private equity company CVC Asia Pacific in March

CVC Asia Pacific is the New Zealand business' fourth owner in less than five years and the number of sales has left a sour taste in the mouths of some franchisees who say they have not earned anything out of sales.

A former Holiday Shoppe franchise owner who did not wish to be named said he had become frustrated with how the business was run.

"I just don't want to be part of it. The business has been sold three times and franchisees have got nothing from it."

Stella Travel's wholesale operations face shake-up

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