Flight Centre takes on Africa
Flight Centre Travel Group SA is moving full steam ahead with its expansion plans into Africa by opening up a store in Windhoek on October 1.
“When I took over as md last year, it was part of our five-year plan to open more stores in Africa. By 2020, we plan to move into Botswana and Kenya,” md of Flight Centre Travel Group SA, Andrew Stark told TAM.
The group will open a hybrid store with a focus on selling 60% business travel and 40% leisure travel.
“We are attaching a full-time business development manager to the store so we can grow the business even further,” says Stark. “I don’t see us having just one store in Namibia.”
He says after 22 years in South Africa, the only natural way to scale the business was to move beyond SA borders. “Our first prospect was Mauritius, especially since the country offers great tax benefits. But after digging further, we decided to enter Africa via Namibia. There is healthier competition there, which means there is a healthier market.”
The company expects the growth to increase its buying power; enhance existing supplier relationships and builds connections with DMCs in the destination, which will benefit it when selling Namibia out of South Africa. “We don’t expect it to be easy to clean up the market, but out entrance into Namibia will sharpen the pencil of some of the competition,” Stark says.
The travel group is also keen to acquire a few smaller South African travel agencies. “We want to increase our level of expertise. Agencies with a good corporate book and great reputation should contact me,” he says.
“It’s in our company’s DNA to grow. It we aren’t opening up in every shopping centre like we did in the past – we will find other ways to expand.”