Why the Trav­elex chief ex­ec­u­tive is con­vert­ing his cash into cul­ture

The Jewish Chronicle - - Business - BY CANDICE KRIEGER

DON’T MIX busi­ness with plea­sure? Lloyd Dorf­man, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Trav­elex, might just dis­agree.

Mr Dorf­man, 55, fa­mous for run­ning the world’s largest for­eign-ex­change spe­cial­ist, and worth an es­ti­mated £480 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to last month’s Sun­day Times Rich List, is us­ing his busi­ness prow­ess to in­vest in other in­ter­ests.

To­gether with his son Charles, 25, he has joined the board of Daniel Broch’s in­de­pen­dent cin­ema group Ev­ery­man Me­dia, which re­cently bought the chain of Screen Cine­mas in Lon­don and the South East. Now com­pris­ing eight cine­mas, the group is un­der­go­ing a £100m ex­pan­sion and plans to roll out 50 venues in the next five years.

“I think of it in air­line terms, be­cause of my own busi­ness,” says Mr Dorf­man, whose firm pro­vides for­eign-ex­change pay­ment fa­cil­i­ties for big busi­ness as well as spend­ing-money for over­seas trav­ellers. “If home cin­ema is first class and mul­ti­plex screens are econ­omy, then the Ev­ery­man is busi­ness class.

“The Ev­ery­man has a very loyal fol­low­ing. Now it’s about scal­ing it up and rolling it out, mak­ing it into a na­tion chain. It’s an ex­cit­ing project.”

This is the latest of Mr Dorf­man’s arts-re­lated roles. Last year he was ap­pointed chair­man of the Round­house per­form­ing arts cen­tre in Cam­den, North Lon­don, which has hosted the Kaiser Chiefs, Mark Ron­son and Sir Paul McCart­ney, among oth­ers.

“Peo­ple of my age have fond mem­o­ries of the Round­house as it be­came an iconic per­form­ing venue in the 60s,” he tells JC Busi­ness. “I re­mem­ber be­ing there in 1968 for the all-night con­cert with the Doors and Jef­fer­son Air­plane. Peo­ple say that if you re­mem­ber it you weren’t re­ally there, but be­ing a nice Jewish boy, I do.

“I pass it on my morn­ing on my way to work and ev­ery evening on my way home,” adds the Hamp­stead res­i­dent, ac­knowl­edg­ing that he has spent a lot of time get­ting in­volved in the arts one way or an­other. “I en­joy th­ese things. I don’t play golf. I’m not into horse-rac­ing and I don’t want to own a foot­ball team. Tak­ing what I have learnt from build­ing and run­ning a global busi­ness to help­ing th­ese sorts of or­gan­i­sa­tions is some­thing I en­joy.”

Trav­elex too is af­fil­i­ated to the arts world — cur­rently in its sixth year of spon­sor­ship for the Na­tional Theatre’s £10-a-seat sea­son, a con­tract Mr Dorf­man says it in­tends to re­new.

So does he see a re­spon­si­bil­ity on suc­cess­ful Jewish en­trepreneurs to give some­thing back? “Def­i­nitely. I think that’s un­ques­tion­able. It’s in­cum­bent upon any­body who makes money in busi­ness to put some­thing back, and you do that in the things that in­ter­est you. And for Jewish busi­ness­peo­ple, ob­vi­ously we all do our thing across the com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, and it’s nice to sup­port things out­side the or­gan­i­sa­tions. One should do both.”

Mr Dorf­man gives to a variety of Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing Jewish UJIA, CST, Jewish Care, Nor­wood, the Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tional Trust and Mac­cabi. He also chairs the ORT busi­ness break­fasts.

His work life is also busy. He was last year ap­pointed deputy chair­man of Quest, a lead­ing cor­po­rate se­cu­rity and intelligence firm, but is par­tic­u­larly proud of the Trav­elex em­pire that he has built. The com­pany board­room is filled with framed con­sumer-busi­ness awards and plaques com­mem­o­rat­ing sig­nif­i­cant mile­stones in Trav­elex’s his­tory.

Founded by Mr Dorf­man in 1976, Trav­elex sold a ma­jor­ity stake to Apax Part­ners for more than £1 bil­lion in 2005. Last year, the com­pany paid $440 mil­lion (£220m) to ac­quire Ruesch In­ter­na­tional, a US-based busi­ness-ser­vices­pay­ment com­pany. Trav­elex op­er­ates in 107 air­ports and 33 coun­tries, al­though not yet Is­rael.

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent com­pany ac­counts, earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est, taxes, de­pre­ci­a­tion and amor­ti­sa­tion (EBITDA) for 2007 were £107 mil­lion. Its to­tal bor­row­ings were ap­proach­ing £1.4 bil­lion but Mr Dorf­man be­lieves Trav­elex is fi­nan­cially well-placed. “Touch wood, the end of our first quar­ter we are on bud­get, which I think in the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment is a good place to be. Our bud­get this year rep­re­sents about a 20 per cent growth on last year, which in turn was about a 17 per cent growth on the pre­vi­ous year.”

He says con­sumers have not stopped trav­el­ling; they are just chang­ing their des­ti­na­tions. “Peo­ple may be more at­tracted to go­ing to the US than go­ing to Europe be­cause of the way the cur­ren­cies have moved, but I don’t think we are at a stage where peo­ple won’t travel.”

Where should Bri­tish hol­i­day­mak­ers go to get the most for their pound? He notes there has been a big surge in US dol­lars. “In terms of emerg­ing cur­ren­cies, the Turk­ish lira and South African rand are pop­u­lar. We are also see­ing growth in the East­ern Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries; Czech crown and Pol­ish zloty. Peo­ple are ad­just­ing their des­ti­na­tions and be­ing fu­elled by the air­lines — both low-cost a nd t r a d i t i o nal — that will stim­u­late the mar­ket with price.”

Trav­elex boss Lloyd Dorf­man: “It’s in­cum­bent upon any­body who makes money in busi­ness to give some­thing back”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.