Published: 12:00, 14 September 2021
| Updated: 17:46, 14 September 2021
One of the county's best-known travel agents has been taken over in a multi-million pound deal.
Baldwins Travel has been acquired by Manchester-based business group Inc & Co in a move which will secure its high street stores.
It has also vowed to settle any existing monies owed to tour operators and customers.
And its new owners say the investment will allow the travel firm to "navigate its way out of the difficulties presented to the sector during the pandemic".
Established more than 120 years ago, Baldwins is headquartered in Tunbridge Wells and has eight branches in Kent and Sussex, including outlets in Cranbrook, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tenterden and Tonbridge.
Chris and Nick Marks, the previous owners of the firm, will remain within the business.
They said: “Being a family-owned and run business, we’ve had many very happy years at the helm of Baldwins.
“Going into the pandemic, we were a strong and successful business, but many industries and businesses have been upturned by Covid, and none more so than the travel industry. We were the first to be impacted and look to be the last to be able to recover.
“We have sought to ensure the excellent name of Baldwins Travel can flourish once again, which is why we are really pleased to be joining the Inc & Co team; who not only have a huge passion for travel but also have ambitions to invest in and develop the team, the brand and also the digital potential of the business.
“Throughout the past months we have temporarily closed shops - making use of the furlough scheme - and as such, have been unable to respond to correspondence. We apologise for any concern that this has caused and thank customers for their patience."
The company currently employs more than 50 staff.
Jack Mason, group CEO of Inc & Co, added: “We’ll be warmly welcoming the brand into our growing portfolio of businesses.
"We were the first to be impacted and look to be the last to be able to recover..."
“Although it’s been a difficult year for the wider sector, we’re delighted to be in a position to secure the futures of Baldwins’ employees and branches."
Inc & Co's portfolio includes 15 brands with more than 750 staff.
Its boss added: "The Inc & Co team will be bringing our expertise in digital and e-commerce to the table - to re-ignite Baldwins’ offering and helping the team to accommodate pent-up holiday demand, both online and for their loyal customers in-store.
“Our plans looking forward to 2022 will see us invest in its tech infrastructure to ensure its online presence is on par with its in-store experience.”