Thomas Cook has unveiled a tie-up with Swiss-based hotel property development firm LMEY Investments as it strengthens plans to grow its own-brand hotel portfolio.
The companies have struck an agreement to create a joint hotel investment platform, contributing five owned and directly-managed hotel properties between them. These seed assets, which will have a combined value of around £150m, will be used to "develop the platform into a fund focused on acquiring a pipeline of further hotel and resort assets across Thomas Cook's destination markets".
As part of the strategic partnership, Thomas Cook has also acquired a 42 per cent stake in German tour operator Aldiana from LMEY. Aldiana operates eight club resorts across Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Tunisia and Austria.
The travel firm said Aldiana will "sit alongside" its existing hotel brands, and boost Thomas Cook's own-brand hotel portfolio.
Thomas Cook chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said bolstering the company's portfolio of own-brand hotels was "absolutely key to our success".
LMEY founder, Hans Kortlevers, said: "I believe that the combination of the entrepreneurial approach that LMEY has to buying, developing and upgrading hotels and Thomas Cook's unrivalled expertise and professionalism in European tourism, has the potential to build a really exciting pipeline of new properties in sun and beach destinations."
The news came alongside Thomas Cook's latest trading update, with the outlook for full-year underlying earnings before interest and taxes unchanged.
The company said booked revenue for winter 2017/18 was up six per cent, boosted by growing demand for Turkey and North Africa. Overall group bookings remain in line with expectations, up 11 per cent compared to the same time last year, and average selling prices up one per cent.
Fankhauser said the past month however, has been "operationally challenging" as the company dealt with thousands of customers in the Caribbean and Florida impacted by Hurricane Irma.
The own-brand hotel focus, marked by the launch of 11 new hotels, has helped Thomas Cook to mitigate the margin pressure felt due to the more competitive market in Spain.
Meanwhile, Thomas Cook also announced chief financial officer Michael Healy is to retire, with current director of financial reporting Bill Scott taking over the role on 1 January.