Gill's Cruise Centre

Origins

At 30 years old, the founder - Mr Robert Gill – left National Service having qualified in Catering in confectionary. He decided to start his own business, not wishing to carry out manual tasks for someone else and having established a Café and bakery specialising in high quality confectionery, the business branched out into sweet making and novelty chocolate Easter eggs filled with homemade sweets. The advent of large confectioners and bakeries deemed it essential to diversify the business and was introduced to a business which was, at the time, selling British Rail train tickets and suggested that the business consider entering this sector. As a result, the first suburban travel agency in Wales was created by Mr Robert Gill selling not only rail tickets but also a large selection of holidays offered by such companies as Wayfarers of London, Thomas Cook, Hourmount Travel and many others. The café was closed and partitions erected to separate the confectionery & bakery processes from the travel agency. In a short period of time, the travel agency business was significantly outgrowing the confectionery and bakery business and it was decided that the confectionery and bakery activities should be sold. The travel agency has gone from strength to strength, specialising in escorted cruising and Gills became one of the first travel agents to offer escorted coach trips to Southampton for cruising on board the QE2. Mr Robert Gill retired in 1989 passing the business over to his son Mr Alistair Gill. The company is now one of the leading cruise specialists in the UK sending some 60,000 clients on holiday annually.

Success Factor

Gills has had a visionary chairman who has clarity of vision and utilises non family senior management to propel a family owned business into one of the UK’s leading independent travel agents specialising in Cruise Holidays. The three most important aspects which have contributed to the rapid growth of the business are (a) a great team with the directors establishing a teamwork ethos which is second to none which has been built on openness, trust and a dedication to excel (b) a fantastic web site which is clear, innovative, informative and provides any customer with up to date information on cruise line products and availability (c) a desire to succeed during difficult times and the company has been courageous in taking the market on with a desire and dedication to succeed and grow.

The Future

Gills works to help its people to realise their full potential and provide cruise line partners with the best possible route to market and, in so doing, maximise returns for shareholders. Everything the company does reflects this mission and the values that make it possible. The company aims to be the largest independent cruise travel agent with a 20% market share by 2015.