TUI Travel posts record full-year profits

TUI Travel posted an 18-percent leap in operating profits of a record £471 million for the year, despite tough economic conditions which are battering rival Thomas Cook.

Strong online sales and demand for exclusive resorts helped Europe's biggest tour operator report full-year profit at the top end of forecasts, the company said.

"Even in the current challenging market conditions, we continue to operate from a position of strength," chief executive Peter Long said on Monday.

"We have self-help measures in place to help offset the difficult macroeconomic environment, including clear plans for Germany and France," he said, without giving further details.

TUI Travel - which operates Thomson and First Choice and is majority-owned by German group TUI AG - said on Monday it had achieved record profits in Britain, the Nordic region, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and Austria, despite a backdrop of unrest in key North African destinations and weak consumer sentiment in some source markets.

Thomas Cook has endured a torrid 2011 and faces an uncertain future as it battles to regain the confidence of holidaymakers and investors after securing a rescue package from its lenders.

TUI Travel has looked to cash in on its rival's misfortune, placing advertisements in national newspapers stating: "Another holiday company may be experiencing turbulence, but we're in really great shape."

Shares in TUI Travel closed on Friday at 169.6 pence, valuing the business at £1.9 billion.