The Secret's out: Secret Escapes to become largest central European travel deals operator with Czech takeover

Francesca Washtell
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Secret Escapes has taken over Prague-based Slevomat Group (Source: Getty)

Secret Escapes has become the largest holiday deals operator in central and eastern Europe after snapping up a Prague-based group as part of its "aggressive" growth strategy.

The acquisition of Slevomat Group means Secret Escapes will be at break-even on a run-rate basis when the 100 per cent share purchase completes by the end of September.

Although the value of the deal was undisclosed, Secret Escapes chief executive Alex Saint told City A.M. it was "orders of magnitude different" to its previous acquisitions and more than 10 times larger than the company's previous biggest takeover.

Slevomat Group has offices in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where it operates flash deals sites covering holidays and health and wellbeing experiences such as spa trips and restaurant deals. It also owns an aggregator site, which is based in the Czech Republic.

Read more: Democratising luxury travel: Behind the success of Secret Escapes

Founded in 2010, the company has more than 1.3m customers globally and turned over around €90m (£83.5m) this year.

“The goal is to integrate the Slevomat Group with our existing businesses in central Europe,” Saint told City A.M. “Central European businesses tend to be quite specific to the region that they’re in. Actually acquiring businesses that are run by strong local teams is a good way in.

“There are quite a lot of sectors in those countries that haven’t been picked off by the big global e-commerce brands yet. There are a bunch of companies there that are interesting acquisition targets, for a company of [Secret Escapes’s] size.”

Secret Escapes branched into the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary last year under its Travelist brand and has an established business in Poland.

Read more: Luxury holiday site Secret Escapes expands to France and Eastern Europe

Saint said the group is not specifically looking at other acquisitions in that region at this time, but has not ruled out tie-ups there or elsewhere.

“We will continue to grow as aggressively as we can and do that partly through acquisitions.”

Slevomat Group will retain its brand and business structure and will expand its international hotel and holiday deals offering, by reciprocally offering Secret Escapes and Travelist products on their platform.

In July, Saint told City A.M. the company is considering launching an initial public offering in the next three to four years.

Secret Escapes launched in 2011 as an online-only, deals-based travel agent offering flash deals with up to 70 per cent off luxury hotel stays. It has sold more than 6m room nights and now operates in 21 countries.

Read more: Secret Escapes gets $60m funding from Google

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