In 1995 French-born Mathilde Robert had a choice between becoming redundant or moving with the newly acquired company she headed from London to Crawley. She took the money, a quarter of the 60-person staff, some clients, and the agent relationships she’d formed. “I would never be able to adapt to working for a monster company and doing one thing when I was used to doing everything,” she says. On a Friday, Robert and her crew packed their bags and shed a few tears. By Monday, they were working at Argo Holidays, a branch of Argo Tours, the company Robert had quickly negotiated a deal with to run its subsidiary. Since taking over, Robert has grown revenues from £768k in 1995 to over £10.9m in 1997, through obsessive attention to detail and by offering off-beat excursions such as trips to Cyprus to learn Western-style line dancing. In 1996 Argo Holidays became an independent company, in which Robert owns a minority stake.
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