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II. Havas Voyages: Thomas Cook leaves the brand behind…NF brings it back to life!

A brief history of the brand


Two centuries ago, the pioneering French journalist Charles-Louis Havas created the first press agency in a small office with…carrier pigeons! Havas now stands as one of the world’s largest communications group. Its tourism branch was born in 1945. In the last twenty years, the path of the iconic brand “Havas Voyages” has been far from smooth.



Inside TUI, the group NF decides to resuscitate the Havas brand that had been sleeping in the drawers of the group Vivendi Universal after being abandoned by Thomas Cook - Screenshot DR
Inside TUI, the group NF decides to resuscitate the Havas brand that had been sleeping in the drawers of the group Vivendi Universal after being abandoned by Thomas Cook - Screenshot DR
Two years after its alliance with American Express, the American group decides to only operate the “Business” branch.

It discontinues the “Leisure” network that is bought out by the German group C&N (that would become Thomas Cook.)

On September 1st, 2003, Havas Voyages, the first integrated network of travel agencies in France with 435 physical agencies, fuses with Thomas Cook Voyages, the French branch of the German group Thomas Cook AG, Europe’s second touristic group.

But the emblematic brand will have gloomy days ahead.

Exit of the Havas brand

In January 2004, Thomas Cook launches a large communications campaign to establish its reputation.

Havas is ousted. The brand is left behind to the profit of Thomas Cook, named after the English inventor of holiday packages.

The 435 French physical agencies change their sign. The first transformation is meant to be symbolic: we’re now talking about the “Havas Planet,” on Avenue de Opera in Paris.

“The past remains in the past. We opted for innovation by adopting the Thomas Cook brand that conforms to the group’s European strategy.

Admittedly, Havas Voyages was a beautiful brand, but it was also a purely French distribution emblem that was a bit outdated, ageing, and conservative…” declared Wim Desmet, President of Thomas Cook for Western Europe, during a press briefing.

In the meantime, TUI Group (a branch of the other German giant, the group Preussag) creates TUI France through the fusion of Nouvelles Frontières, Corsair International, and the tour-operators Marmara, Tourinter, and Aventuria.

By acquiring NF, the German giant hopes to catch up on the French market.

It wants to reach the top and become the European leader in tourism in front of its eternal rival C&N Touristic AG, that became Thomas Cook AG.

Nouvelles Frontières brings the brand back to life

Eric Debry - DR
Eric Debry - DR
1st flashback: In the middle of the 1990s, the small organization Nouvelles Frontières (NF), founded in 1967 by the charismatic Jacques Maillot, became the first French TO to adopt an integrated model.

NF, at the time, is implanted in 38 countries, and bands together two airline companies (Corsair and Aérolyon), 22 hotels to the Paladien brand, a network of 161 agencies in France (including 55 franchises gathered in one association), and numerous incoming agencies abroad.

This accelerated growth will soon be cut short. In 1998, rumors of a buyout are already circulating. The results will be catastrophic.

Inside TUI, the group NF decides to resuscitate the Havas brand that had been sleeping in one of the drawers of the group Vivendi Universal after being abandoned by Thomas Cook.

The acquisition is recorded on January 1st, 2004.

“The group Nouvelles Frontières has just acquired the brand Havas Voyages from the group Vivendi Universal because it is one of the most beautiful brands in French tourism and a “wonderful tool” for the group’s strategy,” declares, at the time, Eric Debry, President of the group Nouvelles Frontières, in charge of Western Europe for TUI.

Careful not to disclose the financial details, he describes the strategic objectives.

“Through the Havas Voyages brand, and only under a franchise agreement, we are going to develop a new network of exclusively “Leisure” travel agencies.

Havas Voyages will serve as the distributor of the TUI France brand without, however, excluding the other brands.”

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Written by Michèle SANI translated by Joséphine Foucher the 17/09/2015
Read 998 times


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