Alfa Travel becomes employee-owned

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Alfa Travel operates 46 coaches, the majority of which are Mercedes-Benz Tourismos. CHRIS NEWSOME
Alfa Travel operates 46 coaches, the majority of which are Mercedes-Benz Tourismos. CHRIS NEWSOME

Northwest of England-based coach tour and hotel operator Alfa Travel has become an employee-owned business.

Founded by the Sawbridge family in 1985, the business recorded revenue of £34.8m in 2014. The company owns 21 hotels in seaside locations around the UK, under the Leisureplex Holiday Hotels chain, as well as 46 coaches, the majority of which are Mercedes-Benz Tourismos.

Paul Sawbridge, who was the MD of the Alfa/Leisureplex Group for over 25 years and now takes the position of Chairman, is delighted to announce the move to an employee-owned business. He said: “It will secure the future of the business for the benefit of staff and customers.

“As a family-owned company, we have always been able to take a long-term view and when the time came for our family directors to retire, we looked for an ownership structure that would continue that outlook.”

The Sawbridge family retains a 25% share of the business and has provided the majority funding to finance the employee buyout of the remaining 75%, along with Lloyds bank.

In a move that sees employees in the driving seat of Alfa Travel’s future, the Board of Trustees plays a vital role in engaging employees in business goals and strategy. The Alfa/Leisureplex Group said it is the first employee-owned company to hold its Trustee Election solely online and out of 17 candidates who put themselves forward from across the company, the three trustees elected were Alyson Jones, Group Sales Manager, David Rimmer, Financial Controller and William Honeyball, Area Manager for Scotland and General Manager of the Selborne Hotel in Dunoon.

Alfa has also welcomed its new CEO – Stephen Ford – who joins the firm after returning to his native north west from Sydney where he was MD for Avon Australia and New Zealand.

Karen Sawbridge remains in place as Operations Director for Leisureplex Holiday Hotels. Paul and Peter Sawbridge now sit on the Board of Trustees as non-executive Directors.