The new boss of Market Harborough travel company Travelsphere / Just You says he now confidently expects both town-based brands to “expand significantly”.
Charismatic Canadian-based businessman Bruce Poon Tip told the Mail he expected both the Travelsphere and Just You brands to “more than double in size over the next three to five years”.
That’s good news for the 200 people still employed by the firm, off Rockingham Road in the town.
“Travelsphere and Just You were always profitable and successful” said Bruce (49), the founder of G Adventures, which bills itself as “the world’s largest independently owned small-group adventure travel company.
“Now we’re here as tour holiday specialists to give the brands a bit of TLC and allow the company to continue on its trajectory.”
It’s a dramatic turnaround from a month ago, when the brands were owned by the struggling All Leisure - along with several money-losing cruise brands.
But when All Leisure went bust, sunk by its loss-making cruises, there was fierce competition for the profitable parts of All Leisure - Travelsphere and Just You.
“We went aggressively after these firms from about November, because they were a really good fit for us” said Bruce, speaking to the Mail on his first visit to Market Harborough. “But there was strong competition.
“We were down to the last five, then the last three, and I’m just delighted that we won the race in the end.
“They’re more of a direct marketing business, we’re more through travel agents, so we can learn from each other.
“I also want to market these successful brands more outside the UK, and look at the global level.
“I think both Travelsphere and Just You will expand significantly.”
All Leisure had been been on its fifth corporate owner since 2000 when it ceased trading on January 4. Around 50 town staff connected to cruise brands were made redundant.
“But I’m very pleasantly surprised by the staff here” said Bruce, after taking all 200 of them out to the Three Swans in town. The businesses here have been through a lot over the last few years.
“I was expecting staff to feel a bit jaded, but it’s not like that at all. People are positive and excited.”
Bruce has his own distinctive business philosophy, seeing tourism as “a force for global good” and potentially the world’s greatest form of wealth redistribution.
He has written a best-selling business book - all town staff now have a copy - and been praised for his approach by the Dalai Lama.