Fresh from a change in ownership, Thomas Cook India is expanding its foreign exchange (forex) business. With an increase in demand for inward remittances, Thomas Cook added 26 forex outlets in Tier-II and III cities in the quarter ended June and plans to set up four more soon. Currently, the company has 128 foreign exchange outlets.
“Metro cities are becoming cluttered. We are seeing good opportunities in smaller towns and cities in the forex business. The inward remittances business is growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 25 per cent,” said Mahesh Iyer, head (forex), Thomas Cook India.
The company has opened an outlet in Bihar’s Siwan district, in which it carries out 600-700 transactions a day. More outlets are being planned in Jalgaon, Ratnagiri, Moga, Ahmednagar, Guntur, etc.
The foreign exchange business accounts for about 60 per cent of the company’s revenue. Earlier, Managing Director Madhavan Menon had said Thomas Cook was betting big on the outbound and domestic travel market. However, the company would continue to push the forex business, which is likely to contribute a few percentage points more to the company’s revenue this year. “We want to be closer to the customer and provide services at the doorstep, through local personnel who understand the language and the culture of the place,” Iyer said.
The outlets would offer customers a diverse range of services, including inward remittances through MoneyGram and Xpress Money, currency notes in 26 global currencies, traveller’s cheques, drafts and wires, prepaid forex cards, university fee remittance and wholesale foreign exchange. The company is opting for a mix of owned and franchise outlets. Iyer said three per cent of the company’s revenue would be used to fund the company’s Rs 9.75-crore expansion plans.
For 2011-12, the company recorded a 28 per cent rise in forex business. The outbound travel business grew 44 per cent. “The idea is to push both the businesses. The outbound business is where we are seeing more growth. While correction in the Middle East market is boosting our forex business, it is the overall pie which is growing,” said Iyer.