With few funding options, joint-founders Helen Spiller and Glenn Powell secured a home-improvement loan from Marks & Spencer to set up Gemstone Travel in 1993. The pair says M&S still think they renovated a kitchen. Starting out selling cheap airline seats around Europe, the Berkshire-based company now sells tickets world-wide and is also beginning to sell holiday packages. It advertises in national newspapers, via Teletext, and at an appropriately-named web site called www.cheap-flights.co.uk. Gross revenue has grown from £1.5m in 1994 to £16.4m in 1997, creating fresh challenges. Infrastructure lags behind sales. And the company is planning to invest in a new computer system to handle the high volume of transactions.

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Company details
Year1998
Rank16
CompanyGemstone Travel
ActivityTravel agency
LocationBerkshire
Annual sales rise over 3 years122.88%
Latest sales £000s16,446
Staff91
Founded1993
Websitewww.gemstonetravel.com

If applicable:

* supplied by company † annualised figure