Thursday 19 October 2017

OpenJaw sets out plan to double workforce as it eyes up China market

Irish travel software company eyes Chinese growth and is likely to consider an IPO in 2019, writes Gavin McLoughlin

Kieron Branagan said the company was developing a large R&D centre in the city of Dalian in China, working alongside its parent (Stock picture)
Kieron Branagan said the company was developing a large R&D centre in the city of Dalian in China, working alongside its parent (Stock picture)
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Irish travel software business OpenJaw is embarking on an ambitious expansion plan which will see it target a doubling of its workforce to 450 and an increase in annual revenues to more than €40m over the next three years.

A listing of the business in Dublin and London is likely to be explored by the company's Chinese parent thereafter, OpenJaw chief executive Kieron Branagan told the Sunday Independent.

OpenJaw was acquired by Chinese aviation IT firm TravelSky for just under $40m last year and provides software designed to help airlines sell ancillary products alongside tickets. Its software also helps facilitate customer loyalty programmes.

Branagan said the company was developing a large R&D centre in the city of Dalian in China, working alongside its parent.

"We see tremendous growth in Asia, tremendous growth in the domestic Chinese market around airlines.

"At the moment we're live with four Chinese carriers including Hong Kong, and we've another four in development."

"It gives us a tremendous increase in revenue and profitability as you go into 2018. I think TravelSky are very interested in the listing of the business once we're at a particular point, ie the magnitude is there, we have the revenue, the profitability and the growth path," he said.

"Everything that we're working on today is geared towards transforming the business into being a much more significant operation... after the three-year period I think it's definitely something that Travelsky are considering."

Funding for the expansion plan will come from a mix of the company's profits and investment from its parent.

The company is looking to develop its offerings in the areas of mobile and big data. A major area of focus is growing in China, where the aviation industry is growing fast.

"In China mobile is everything... in everything that we need to build mobile capabilities for the Chinese market.

"Retailing is a little different in China and I think maybe it's just a little bit further ahead than in the West. We need to add new retailing models," Branagan said.

"Big data has always been a focus for us because we generate a lot of data on the platform...there's a well of data that we can leverage using big data techniques, and ultimately that will help airlines sell more to their customers."

Prior to the purchase by TravelSky, OpenJaw was bought by Canadian firm Guestlogix in late 2014 but was later sold on after Guestlogix ran into trouble with lenders.

Branagan departed the business after the Guestlogix deal but came back as chief executive when OpenJaw was sold to TravelSky. He and other OpenJaw senior figures brought a legal case against Guestlogix seeking payment of certain sums associated with the 2014 acquisition. The case was settled.

Clients of the business include Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Iberia. The company has offices in Dublin, Galway, Madrid, Krakow and Hong Kong.

Sunday Indo Business

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