Luxury/adventure tour operator Abercrombie & Kent UK saved Cox & Kings UK, by purchasing it out of administration, a British legal arrangement similar to US bankruptcy.
These are the UK and not the American branches of both companies. Abercrombie & Kent UK is operated separately from Abercrombie & Kent USA and their markets and styles of operation are distinct, though both are owned by the same holding company, the Abercrombie & Kent Group.
A&K USA operates about half escorted tours and half custom-designed travel programs under the brand Tailor Made Journeys. A&K UK is almost entirely involved with custom programs.
Cox & Kings UK is also separate from its American counterpart, Cox & Kings, The Americas, which suspended operations last October, two months after announcing that it was completely financially independent of its UK counterpart.
Out of the ashes
The purchase of Cox & Kings UK by the A&K Group ensures that the company will continue operations, purchased trips will be fulfilled, travelers will not be left in the lurch and the jobs will be saved. This comes as good news for the industry, coming on the heels of the disastrous Thomas Cook collapse last September, which left thousands of travelers stranded.
None of this affects U.S. travel agents, including those who work with Abercrombie & Kent USA, because its business is completely separate from that of Abercrombie & Kent in the UK.
Cox & Kings UK provides premium tours in contrast to A&K, which operates in the luxury tier. And Cox and Kings UK is mostly involved with escorted tours, while A&K UK mostly provides custom programs.
A&K and Cox & Kings will continue to operate their own specialties separately under the directorship of Kerry Gold, managing director of Abercrombie & Kent UK. The company does hope to achieve some synergies on the sales level through the fundamental complementarity of the two companies with their distinct markets and specialties, both of which companies have developed strong trade relationships.
In a statement, A&K’s founder and co-chairman Geoffrey Kent said, “Cox & Kings’ heritage, service and brand align well with A&K. The company's product portfolio is complementary to our own and increases A&K's presence in the luxury travel sphere. This is an exciting time for A&K and the first iteration of growth plans globally.”
Gold said that the merger “builds on our pioneering legacy and is an exciting development for both companies, especially our employees. We are confident that, as part of the A&K family, Cox & Kings’ ability to deliver premium luxury holidays will reach new levels.”
Abercrombie & Kent was founded in 1962 by Geoffrey Kent in Kenya as a safari operator and expanded into an international operator of luxury tours, often to remote and exotic destinations, as well as more familiar territory, such as Europe.
Thanks to the A&K purchase, Cox & Kings maintains its status as the oldest surviving tour operator in the world. It was founded in 1758 in India. The company specializes in escorted tours to the Indian Subcontinent, Latin America, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.