At a time when fledgling companies spring up and fade away faster than you can say ‘start-up’, perhaps the richest inheritance a business can receive is a long, robust and compelling history. In its 256 years of existence, that is the kind of legacy that the Great War-era travel phenomenon Cox & Kings has thrived on, shaping years of experience in the cut-throat travel industry into a key competitive advantage. With a 30% market share among organised players, Cox & Kings today is the largest travel provider in the country. The company operates chiefly in the leisure and education travel segment, with nearly half of its revenue — which, in FY14, added up to ₹2,307 crore — coming from its international business. However, it has not been all smooth sailing for the travel player in recent years, with continued investor scrutiny of the huge debt the company accumulated thanks to a series of buyouts. Flagging demand in India and abroad, then, only compounded matters.
The Outperformers 2014
The calm after the storm
Though a costly buy impeded its progress, the travel major is now on safer ground
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