Czech iconic start up travel agency seen for sale

Photo: PatrikPaprika, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the biggest Czech business success stories of the post-Velvet Revolution is up for sale according to the business daily, Hospodářské Noviny.

Photo: PatrikPaprika,  Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0
Airline and bus ticket seller Student Agency was founded in 1996 by businessman Radim Jančura and became one of the biggest companies on the market.

With the end of the iron curtain, travel was one of the freedoms many Czechs wanted to taste and bus tickets and au pair tours to Western Europe and other countries was one way to make it affordable. Student Agency cashed in on that and rode the wave as Czech disposable income rose and foreign trips to far away destinations became more and more affordable.

The business daily bases its information on a document drawn up for potential investors. It says that the asking price for Student Agency could come to around 1.0 billion crowns based on its recent turnover figures. Turnover last year reached 18 million euros with the company employing around 175.

Jančura wants to use the income from the sale to invest in other parts of his transport empire, namely the bus and train ticket sales and operations grouped under the banner RegioJet. The paper points out that RegioJet’s passenger train business has increased ambitions to take on Czech Railways, the state-owned passenger rail company which dominates most of the domestic market.

An increasing series of mainline rail routes and regional routes, the latter mostly subsidised as public service operations, will be coming up for tender soon giving the private operator a chance to increase its market share. The train and bus business currently transport around 16 million people a year.

Czech passenger rail service competition has dragged in recent years with many tenders for regional routes delayed and the state showing some enthusiasm for trying to protect the state passenger rail company for as long as possible.