Belfast Telegraph

Travelex close to record performance

By Holly Williams

Foreign currency giant Travelex said it overcame last year's volcanic ash cloud and difficult travel market to post the second best annual earnings performance in its history.

The group reported a 9% rise in underlying earnings to £130.6 million for 2010 after investing another £30m in new products and services.

Travelex, which saw sales rise 16% to £739.7m, expanded by another 139 stores and more than 100 cash machines last year - taking its total global estate to 950 stores across 24 countries.

It launched its pre-paid card - an alternative to travellers' cheques - in five new markets and said a total of £1bn was loaded on to the cards.

Peter Jackson, chief executive of Travelex, said the group's 2010 performance "came about in spite of the challenging global market conditions, which last year included the impact of the ash cloud, the exceptional bad weather across Europe and the ongoing tough economic backdrop, all of which impacted travel patterns around the world".

Travelex plans to continue expanding in 2011 across fast- growing areas such as Asia and South America, despite ongoing challenges in market conditions.

It has 51 stores in Japan and a joint venture business payments partnership with Rakuten Bank, but the group pledged to continue growth in Japan in the long-term, despite the country's nuclear and earthquake crisis.

Travelex hopes to fund takeovers in a number of emerging markets by using proceeds of the sale of its pre-paid card management division, which is being bought by Mastercard for £290m.

The group retained part of the pre-paid cards business and will continue to offer the Travelex Cash Passport through its stores and online.

Travelex is owned by private equity firm Apax Partners, which bought the business from founder Lloyd Dorfman in 2005.

Mr Dorfman, who set up Travelex in 1976, has retained a significant minority stake, while management also have a shareholding.