Mike Gooley, who fought in the SAS in the 1960s, is battling against the downturn in the travel industry caused by terrorism, war and Sars. Gooley founded Trailfinders, now one of Britain’s largest independent travel agents, in 1970 after leaving the army. Initially the company depended on postal bookings, almost failing to get off the ground when its launch coincided with a four-month postal strike. Now much of Trailfinders’ business is done through telesales. Sales of tickets, travel insurance and the like resulted in sales of £490m in 2003, when the company had 1,026 staff. Known as affable and down-to-earth, Gooley is estimated to be worth £152m.
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