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Minoan looks to make more acquisitions in travel and leisure

MINOAN Group has said it is examining "step change" acquisitions in its travel and leisure business headed by former Airtours chief Duncan Wilson from its Glasgow base.

The AIM-listed group, which has since 2012 been buying up high street and niche travel agencies, said future deals could "allow it to reach critical mass" in both total transaction value and profit, as it developed into a "successful international travel and leisure business".

Two months ago Minoan said it was in advanced discussions with potential targets with total transaction revenues of up to £30 million, and had identified further targets with revenues of up to £90 million.

Yesterday Minoan was unveiling first-half revenues of £24.2 million, a rise of 22 per cent on last year, and profits in the division of £149,000, up 27 per cent, saying it was continuing to move away from traditional retail business towards higher margin areas.

Minoan said the strong trading performance had continued since April 30, with gross profit up 21 per cent on the previous year "in respect of the continuing business streams", with corporate travel and cruise sectors both growing at over 25 per cent.

In February the group paid £930,000 to buy back a 20 per cent stake in the travel and leisure business it had sold six months earlier for £770,000 to raise funding, telling shareholders it would be earnings enhancing.

Two months ago it completed the acquisition of business travel specialist Martin Singer Travel, based near Aberdeen. Chairman Christopher Egleton was unveiling first-half results showing a pre-tax loss narrowing by 23 per cent from £903,000 to £694,000, as continuing development costs of its core Cretan resort project outweighed growth in the travel division.

The chairman said the Candia Investment Corporation had completed a £1 million investment in the project and now had a five per cent economic interest in it. He went on: "With the project in fast track and all the necessary reaffirmations of support in place both from the local municipality and the Greek government, we are progressing talks over the summer with a number of third parties who have expressed an interest in participating in the project once the presidential decree has been granted."

The chairman said the "temporary pause" in the government's special procedure showed "how long the implementation of such new processes can take".

The Greek Council of State was now in recess until September but he was "confident of a positive outcome in the period following the reconvening of the court".

Minoan shares closed down 2.25p, or 14.9 per cent, at 12.88p

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