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III. Havas Voyages: the French brand Marietton makes headlines

The treacherous path of an emblematic 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.



Havas Voyages, with 850 million euros in revenues and 800 employees, will fuse with the Marietton group. Michel Dinh will maintain his duties as Executive Director. Furthermore, Marietton has recently acquired the “Préférence” networks of François-Xavier de Bouärd and Voyages Auchan - Photo CE
Havas Voyages, with 850 million euros in revenues and 800 employees, will fuse with the Marietton group. Michel Dinh will maintain his duties as Executive Director. Furthermore, Marietton has recently acquired the “Préférence” networks of François-Xavier de Bouärd and Voyages Auchan - Photo CE
Since October 2009, Jean-Marc Siano, President of the Nouvelles Frontières Management Board and Bertrand Mabille, Executive Director of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, announced their intention to build a joint venture that would be split equally into “Leisure” travel and the management of business travel for small and medium sized companies.

Their goal: creating a staple distribution network around the leading brand, Havas Voyages.

The joint venture project will quickly be left aside in favor of a 10 year strategic agreement under a licensing contract. Signed by CWT and NF in May 2010, this agreement specifically anticipated to put CWT’s travel agencies under the brand of Havas Voyages, still a priority of NF, and reinforcing the sale of NF group’s brands within the network.

The principle of a co-leadership between Michel Dinh, Executive Director of Carlson Wagonlit Loisirs, and Gilles Delaruelle, President of Havas Distribution, is maintained.

The former will handle the management and development of the entity and the latter will be in charge of business deals, promotion, and marketing.

The first logos of Havas Voyages by Carlson Wagonlit Travel will be put up in the summer of 2010. This new entity under the sign of "Havas Voyages by Carlson Wagonlit travel” is aiming at 600 physical agencies.

Havas Voyages, the historical brand of travel agencies is changing owners and grants itself a new makeover for the umpteenth time.

During the summer 2011, when rumor has it that TUI France - that is undergoing difficult times - could be reselling the Havas Voyages brand, Michel Dinh clarifies the situation in an interview on TourMaG.com.

“Nouvelles Frontières and Carlson Wagonlit are associated through three distinct contracts. The first is about the distribution of the Nouvelles Frontières products inside the Havas agencies, for a period of five years.

The second concerns the governance transfer of the Havas franchised companies from Nouvelles Frontières to Carlson. And the third is around the Master License, owned by NF, to which we have access to for a period of 10 years.” He adds: “In this last contract, it is stipulated that Carlson Wagonlit has, after a timeframe of a few months, an option to buy at an already determined amount.”

Ultimately, the brand Havas Voyages will be ceded by Nouvelles Frontières to its partner Carlson Wagonlit Travel. The announcement was made official during the network’s convention in Louxor, in December 2011.

The general argument offered is that this transaction will enable NF to refocus on its other brands while pursuing its restructuring. Some observers will note that it, once again, will be in direct competition with Havas Voyages.

The French group Marietton makes headlines

There were rumors: the tour-operator Marietton - a family group created in Lyon in 1968 and today presided by Laurent Abitbol - would be at a well advanced stage of negotiations to acquire Havas Voyages, a network managed by Carlson Wagonlit Travel and still owned by the TUI group.

Without knowing all of the details, our colleague, Tour Hebdo, had speculated as much in July 2015.

Confirmation is made early September to the different Works Councils and Unions of the companies involved. The transaction relates to all of CWT Distribution (Havas Voyages), its branches Comevat (Compagnie Méridionale de Voyages et de Tourisme) and SVM (Société des Voyages Malouins), plus the Monaco agency.

Havas Voyages, 850 million euros in revenues and 800 employees, will thus be integrated to the Marietton group. Michel Dinh will maintain his duties as Executive Director. Marietton also acquired the “Préférences” networks of François-Xavier de Bouärd and Voyages Auchan.

A first generation member of Selectour - and the unfortunate candidate to the last CA Selectour-Afat elections - Laurent Abitbol represents an important influence within French distribution, with a total of 470 agencies.

Havas Voyages has 250, of which 80 are franchised. It would now be worth around 1.3 billion euros. (Versus declared revenues of €25 million in 2007.)

What happened to the buyout of the Havas brand from TUI? An “advance payment” would have already been paid to TUI and the balance would have been included in the selling price agreed on between Carlson and the Marietton group.

2nd flashback: In light of these letting go and rescue operations, the words uttered a few years back (at the AFAT 1995 convention) by Jean-Pierre Mas, President of the AFAT network, hold a particular meaning: “As the obvious competitor of independent distribution, our enemy is Havas.”

And he added: “Our fake enemy is Nouvelles Frontières, fake because we are now finding products comparable to theirs at similar rates if not cheaper. Our problem is that we don’t know how to tell that to clients whereas Jacques Maillot is a model of its kind.”

The times have changed.

Sources: TourMaG.com, l'Echo Touristique, Les Echos as well as the websites that were cited.

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Written by Michèle SANI translated by Joséphine Foucher the 21/09/2015
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