M’boro company joins Travel Leaders Group
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MOULTONBOROUGH — CruCon Cruise Outlet has entered an agreement with the Travel Leaders Group, which will make a significant investment and take an equity stake in the company. Neither the amount of investment nor the terms of the agreement were disclosed.
Founded by Sandy Cleary, CruCon grew from an internet travel agency begun in her mother's basement in 1995, established its headquarters in Moultonborough in 2004 and now sells cruises at discounted prices to some 100,000 guests a year and books annual sales of more than $125 million. Cleary said Wednesday that as a result of the agreement CruCon will become one of many subsidiaries of the Travel Leaders Group under the umbrella the Travel Leaders Leisure Group.
Established in 2008, the Travel Leaders Group has grown, primarily through acquisitions, into the largest traditional travel agency company in North America with annual sales approaching $21 billion. Among its subsidiary companies is the Travel Leaders Network, formerly Vacation.com, a consortium of travel agencies which CruCon joined in 1999.
in a joint statement, Ninan Chacko, chief executive officer of the Travel Leaders Group and Cleary said that the with the investment in CruCon they will seek to increase annual cruise sales to as much as $1 billion during the next several years.
"By investing significantly in CruCon Cruise Outlet, one of the industry's foremost cruise leaders, we see an opportunity to rapidly increase Travel Leaders Group's cruise volume," he said.
Cleary, who will manage CruCon and oversee its investment strategy, said Wednesday that the funds will be applied to expanding the company's infrastructure and workforce as well as streamlining its operations. At the same time, she said that the with access to the Travel Leaders Group's other subsidiaries, CruCon will be positioned to add air travel, hotel accommodations and other offerings at discounted rates to its portfolio, which "will enable our clients to enjoy more fulfilling and cost-effective cruise experiences." She said that CruCon expects to triple its passengers from 100,000 to 300,000 a year.
Cleary said CruCon currently employs 130 people and operates in one building while owning two others in Moultonborough.
"With the investment, we aim to grow into the other two buildings and increase the number of employees," she said, adding "if we can find the people." Like other employers in the region Cleary said that finding help has proven a challenge despite offering a competitive package of wages and benefits and providing employees three square meals a day.
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