If there was one person who could truly be called an icon of the travel industry, it was Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
TORONTO — The parent company of TravelBrands, itravel2000.com, The Travel Experts, redtag.ca and more will be bought out by a subsidiary of Japan’s H.I.S. Group in a new deal set to be completed in the first calendar quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.
Red Label Vacations Inc. says it has signed an agreement to be acquired by the H.I.S. Group subsidiary. H.I.S. has 282 branches in Japan, 275 branches in 158 cities internationally, nearly 17,000 employees worldwide and over ¥600 billion (about Cdn$7.33 billion) in annual sales.
H.I.S. is no stranger to the Canadian travel industry. The company acquired a majority stake in Merit in December 2016 and also purchased Jonview Canada from Transat in October 2017 for $44 million.
With this new deal, Red Label Vacations will continue to operate as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary of H.I.S.
Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by the Canadian Competition Bureau.
“It is a very exciting day for our company as this marks the launch of our next phase of growth,” said RedLabel Vacations co-owners Frank DeMarinis, Joe DeMarinis and Enzo DeMarinis.
“H.I.S. is committed to supporting our continued growth at home in Canada as well as internationally. We expect that H.I.S.’s support will enable us to enhance our service offerings on both the wholesale and retail fronts and accelerate our growth objectives. We look forward to a very bright future.”
H.I.S. Co. Ltd.’s Executive Officer, Global Business Development Division, Hideo Hatano, says the acquisition of Red Label Vacations “is in keeping with our ambitious expansion plan in North America and we look forward to building upon Red Label Vacation’s branding and experience in the Canadian market space to further service the North American market.”
The DeMarinis brothers’ long history in the travel industry began in 1983 with Belair Travel. Belair was bought out and brought into the fold of what would later become Thomas Cook Canada.
The brothers returned in 2004 and created redtag.ca. In 2013 they acquired the North American segment of Thomas Cook Group plc, later rebranded to TravelBrands. In August 2016, the company acquired itravel2000.com, the second largest OTA in Canada.