Carlson Wagonlit Travel reported strong first half growth with sales volumes up 16% from $12.9bn (”7.1bn) to $15bn (”8.3bn) and new sales up 47% to $1.5bn (”827m).
The travel management company said that in the six months to the end of June, sales volume grew by 24% in the EMEA region.
Five countries showed particular growth: Russia (28%), Italy (25%), Germany (19%), Spain (18%) and Austria (17%).
In the UK, sales volume was up by 11%, an increase of ”59m, taking total traffic to ”597m.
Andrew Waller, Carlson”s UK executive vice president, said: ”The first half of 2008 has seen an impressive performance in the UK and we are encouraged by these results.
”There is no room for complacency as economic uncertainty continues to deepen and it is impossible to make accurate forecasts for the second half of the year and beyond, however I feel that we are in a strong position to face whatever challenges lie ahead.”
Sales volume also increased by 37% in Latin America and 15% in Asia Pacific, mainly due to growth in China.
But growth in North America was up only 7% - Douglas Anderson, CWT”s recently appointed president and ceo, said the market was ”softening” because of the impact of the global downturn.
Carlson said that during the six months it had bought three smaller agencies - Traveltime Services and Piedmont Travel in the US, and Viajes Mapfre in Spain.
The company also took full control of its joint ventures in India and Argentina.
It had also signed global agreements with American Express Global Commercial Card and StarCite, an online venues company.
Mr Anderson said the travel business was faced with a global economic downturn which had spread beyond the US to Asia Pacific and the EMEA regions.
Growth in many regions was less than expected with economies in the Eurozone predicted to grow by 1.7% this year compared with 2.6% in 2007.
”It is a tough environment but I am not going to say when I expect it to turn round. We just don”t know,” he said.
He cited the problems of the aviation industry which had been hit by high fuel prices. From the TMC point of view, there were now 60m fewer seats for sale which meant that with fewer flights, air fares could be expected to go up.
He said CWT”s main strategic priorities were to continue to grow the business organically, step up penetration of its hotel business, ramp up meetings and events consulting and increase overall efficiencies in traveller and transaction services.
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