MyTravel rebrand rides cash woes

MyTravel has pledged to plough on with its large-scale rebranding programme, despite the financial uncertainty surrounding the company.

Richard Carrick, chief executive of MyTravel's global development division, told Marketing that there were no plans to halt the repainting of hundreds of Going Places shops and Airtours aircraft with the eight-month-old MyTravel brand. "It's not something we're considering," he said.

The company has so far rebranded around 100 of its 700 high-street shops, but still plans to rename all its stores as MyTravel by the new year.

MyTravel's founder and chairman, David Crossland, pulled out of this year's ABTA Convention at the eleventh hour after last week's scandal concerning a £50m accounts deficit. The travel company's share price has collapsed due to three profit warnings in five months.

Carrick said the company could not run an advertising campaign to reassure holiday-makers due to the current 'closed period' in the run-up to the publication of its full-year results on November 26.

MyTravel is however making a huge public relations effort to bring onside sceptical journalists and the City.

Speaking to reporters at the ABTA Convention, Carrick said MyTravel was "paying the penalty for being too honest" with shareholders.

"We want our books to be whiter than white, but we haven't managed City expectations well enough," he admitted.

UK chief executive Duncan Wilson, also attending the convention, said MyTravel was still "making significant amounts of money".

"At the end of this year, our annus horribilis, we still made around £1m profit each week. We have substantial net assets and trading is as buoyant as it has ever been. We are 40% ahead of expectations for summer 2003," said Wilson.

Analysts remain concerned that the bad news surrounding MyTravel's brand will prompt holidaymakers to cancel their bookings or simply not choose its holidays in the peak booking season, which is fast approaching.

This could lead to a cash-flow crisis and the company's ultimate collapse.

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