Belfast Telegraph

Travel agent reports uptake of Britons working in Spain following Brexit vote

One of Europe's largest online travel agents says Brexit has helped attract skilled British workers to Spain as more Brits consider leaving the country for work opportunities following the referendum.

The chief executive of eDreams told the Press Association that his HR team has found it easier to lure British talent to its headquarters in Catalonia - where it employs over 1,200 workers - in the months following the referendum.

Dana Dunne said: "We run a global recruitment because we are trying to attract people to Barcelona.

"People here (in the UK) have been slightly more open to consider other job offers than they were pre-Brexit and so our recruiting teams - again I don't want to exaggerate it - are seeing slightly more success post-Brexit than pre-Brexit."

His comments come amid fears over a shortage of skilled workers in Britain and the potential of a brain drain following Brexit.

A recent study by the Confederation of British Industry showed that most UK-based firms expect to increase the number of highly skilled jobs in the next few years, but they fear there will be a lack of suitably qualified workers to fill them.

Out of the 322 businesses surveyed, over half highlighted a lack of candidates with appropriate qualifications.

Despite the higher rate of British recruitment, Mr Dunne says one of eDreams' biggest challenges continues to be attracting and developing talent.

"We are at heart a consumer-oriented technology company," he said, citing internal developments in mobile and search that are intended to keep eDreams on the "edge" of innovation among online travel agencies.

"There's a real - in a sense - war for talent."

However, Mr Dunne said he's not worried about Britain scrapping freedom of movement after Brexit, saying that it "would be a pity, mostly for UK citizens," who miss out on job opportunities abroad.

eDreams currently employs around 60 nationalities across its five brands, which include eDreams, Travellink and Liligo, as well as GoVoyages, Opodo which it acquired in 2011.

While the company does not break down its revenue streams by country, Mr Dunne said eDreams has managed to capture a larger chunk of the UK market in recent years, going from being the country's fourth online travel agent to number two behind Expedia.

Though the post-Brexit collapse of the pound did not go unnoticed, Mr Dunne said the firm's global spread helped cushion the blow.

He added: "Being a mostly euro based business, it had a slight impact upon our results for that. On a broader scale, because we're in 44 countries, it hasn't really materially impacted us."

eDreams earlier this year reported a drop in full-year net profit at 10.5 million euros (£9.4 million), compared to 12.4 million euros (£11 million) a year earlier, though revenue grew from 463.3 million euros (£414.6 million) to 486.6 million euros (£435.4 million).

It comes amid efforts to invest in new areas like mobile, but also reflects a slight impact following greater price transparency in countries like the UK amid concerns consumers were being misled.

Both the eDreams and Opodo sites updated the way prices were displayed on their websites last year following a Civil Aviation Authority investigation.

However Mr Dunne said he does not believe the company's reputation has been tarnished adding: "The brands are stronger than ever."