Fred Olsen Travel acquires Solent World Travel from Advantage

Fred Olsen Travel has announced the acquisition of Solent World Travel in Lee-on-Solent, taking its retail network to 21 shops.

Previously owned by the Advantage Travel Partnership for 11 years, the agency has been operating in the same shop in the seaside Hampshire town for 34 years, under different names.

A Fred Olsen spokesperson said Solent World Travel, which will keep its name, is a “perfect fit” for the business as it has a similar customer demographic and product offering and “knowledgeable, service-led staff”.

Current manager Chris Dewey, who has worked in the shop since it opened 34 years ago, will retire at the end of June having spent 44 years in the travel industry.

The three remaining staff will continue to work for Solent World Travel as part of Fred Olsen Travel, with one being promoted to manager, while a fourth member of staff will be recruited.

Paul Hardwick, Fred Olsen Travel director of retail, said: “I am so pleased to be adding Solent World Travel to our portfolio of shops. The business is a fantastic fit for us and I cannot wait to continue the legacy that Chris Dewey and his team have built within the community over many decades.

“I wish Chris every happiness in his well-deserved retirement after 44 years in the industry. I am delighted that Cath, Lynn and Steph are transferring across with the business and am looking forward to working with them to further grow Solent World Travel for many years to come.”

Dewey, who will stay on to help with the transition of the business in June, reflected on his 44 years in travel by saying: “It has been an honour to look after the holidays of so many customers but now the time has come for my family to enjoy some holidays with me.

“I will know where to come to arrange my trips going forward! I leave the office in the capable hands of Cath, Lynn and Steph who will be guided by the team at Fred Olsen Travel.”

Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said the association had “no intention of competing with our members by strategically operating our own shops”.

She added: “While it’s been a tough decision to sell, I believe it is the right one for the business and for the Solent World Travel team. This move is to ensure that the team at Solent is part of a business community that can meet its future needs.

“Solent’s longer-term needs will be better served by them becoming part of a business that has travel retailing at its heart, and under Paul Hardwick’s leadership, there is also a great cultural fit which we feel will make it an easy transition for our people.”

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