Minoan Group says the sale of Stewart Travel will enable the firm to focus attention on the Crete resort project at Itanos Gaia in the far east of the island. The group says the sale of the travel agency helped Minoan Group cut its winter losses by £312,000. Since decades now, the project has been stalled for this reason and that. So, what does this most recent news mean for the mammoth Crete resort development?
Minoan Group sold the Scottish travel agency group last October in a move it said was to increase focus on long-term plans to develop a luxury resort complex in Crete. However, Minoan also revealed that its operating loss for the winter six months to April 30 were still £281,000 despite the sale of the travel entity. Minoan Group Chairman Christopher Egleton had this to say about the financial situation:
“Whilst the net loss for the period has increased slightly over the prior period, that largely reflects the one off profit from discontinued items in the prior period of £455,000 and in the absence of this, the net loss in the current year has been reduced by £406,000 compared to the prior period.”
Minoan Group got the green light to develop a €250 million euro resort near Sitia in the Lasithi prefecture of Crete after a recent Greek Supreme Court’s decision, but so far there’s been no early developmental news. The press release from the group leans toward blaming Stewart Travel and naming it as a liability, while at the same time taking PR advantage of Greek election results and a supposedly more “business-friendly Government.” The language of the press release seems to reflect Minoan Group is fishing for investors.
Nowhere in the Minoan Group news release does it reveal that the group was forced to sell Stewart Travel to pay down part of an £8.3 million pounds in debt from a £5 million pound loan from Hillside International Holdings from 2013. Instead, the news from the group seems to imply that Stewart Travel somehow impeded Crete developments. WebfinancialGroup’s Iain Gilbert framed the Stewart selloff rightly with “Minoan lops off Stewart Travel arm.”
In short, Mr. Egleton’s narrative throughout his company’s press statement is conciliatory and speaks only of potential while blaming politics and Stewart Travel for the sluggish development of the Itanos project. Meanwhile, Stewart Travel has just joined Uniglobe Network in the U.K. and has announced the addition of 30 new jobs in its cruise division.
Stewart Travel had made a spate of acquisitions since Duncan Wilson, owner Brooklyn Travel Holdings teamed up with Rick Green and Brian Cassidy to acquire the Glasgow-based firm. The growth of Stewart recently points in the opposite direction of Egleton’s suggestion the travel company was some kind of boat anchor weighing down the Crete project. We just reported the other day about Stewart Travel rescuing vacationers from a Thomas Cook disaster in Elounda, so business seems to be moving right along for the former Minoan controlled company.
In Christopher Egleton’s outlook via the press release, the Minoan Group chairman reveals the development has hired a new design team and an expansion of that element of the Itanos project. He also put on the table the creation of a “new” master plan for the 6,000-acre project to the east of Sitia.
For me, this does not bode well for the controversial development on the Cavo Sidero peninsula, where environmental opposition claimed the project was unsustainable. Egleton got the caveat to go forward with the massive project during the Tsipras administration and is now blaming the very politicians who helped him gain permission for the resort.
The reason I am so skeptical of the Minoan Group project is my disbelief in the fact no big investor has come forward to develop 6,000 pristine acres or untouched paradise with miles and miles of pristine coastline on the Southern Aegean. This part of Crete island is amazing, and the potential for Egleton’s project is priceless, actually. So, something we are not seeing must be decidedly wrong. At least this is my view. I will reach out to the Minoan Group chairman to see about an interview. Until then, playing the blame game is just bad PR for this company.