Solmar Villas pledges to invest in trade with new owner’s backing

Solmar Villas is to invest further in the trade following its acquisition by Kuoni parent Der Touristik as it sets its sights on becoming a “household name”.

Around 15% of bookings are currently from the trade and the group is targeting 22% in 2025. It aims to hit £50 million turnover this year and £70 million next year.

Chief executive Julie Blake said the villas specialist now planned to create dedicated phone lines for agents and was working on an improved back‑office system and trade hub.

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Blake, whose parents John and Maria Tayler set up Solmar almost 30 years ago, said the business had worked on the sale for about a year and felt it was “in safe hands” with the new owners.

“My parents are in their 70s and we were looking for investment to allow them to retire and help me take the business to the next level,” she said. “We’ve ended up with a partnership that lets us be independent but we have a network of support and other companies to take this business to where we want it to be: number one in the UK.

“I don’t feel at all negative about selling my part of the business because I’ve got the opportunity to make Solmar a household name. I want the business to live beyond me.”

Blake said the business was putting together a “wish list” after being given the go-ahead to invest in growth projects. Solmar currently has more than 1,600 villas, double last year’s portfolio.

“[The new owners] will support us, whether we want a trade team, more villas or investment in villas,” she said, adding that the team would expand and the ‘My Booking’ area of its website was being redeveloped.

Solmar will be sold through Kuoni’s 27 stores, and the group’s Apollo brand in Germany and Scandinavia. It will continue to expand its UK agent partnerships.

Blake added that the removal of James Villas from the market last year was helping Solmar – highlighting it took on more than 400 agents last month. Around 50 agents a week are signing up to its Facebook page.

Michelle Thake’s appointment as senior trade sales manager last year was also driving trade sales, she said.

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