Travel Weekly - Travel Network gets approval to open in Kmarts(5/9/2001) May-09-2001


TRAVEL WEEKLY NEWS - Agent Issues
Travel Network gets approval to open in Kmarts(5/9/2001)
By Michele San Filippo

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. -- Kmart Corp. chose the 300-location agency franchiser Travel Network to set up travel shops in numerous Super Kmart stores, replacing a previous arrangement with Uniglobe.
Under the deal, Travel Network's parent, eTravnet.com, will have rights to move into 41 Super Kmarts in 12 states and will get rights to expand on the West Coast July 1.

The 12 states are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

Michael Brent, president and chief executive officer of eTravnet.com, attributed the company's Kmart deal to its five-year track record of its store-within-a-store concept in Wal-Mart Super Centers.

He added that the strategy is opposite to normal franchising in that you are given locations and then have to match agencies to locations.

Brent said the company will offer existing franchisees a first crack at the new opportunity. "We are able to offer more opportunities to our franchisees to open up additional branches or move existing agencies into the super stores," he said.

"Our franchisees are thrilled because with these primarily leisure stores they are guaranteed an audience of 40,000 to 60,000 each week and are always located in the front of the stores opposite the cashiers."

ETravnet.com has been placing franchised agencies inside high-traffic Wal-Mart Supercenters since 1996 and now has 51 Travel Network Vacation Central locations inside Wal-Mart Supercenters, primarily in the South, Southwest and Southeast.

Kmart opens opportunities for our chain's growth into areas of the country which are a perfect fit for our plans," said Stephanie Abrams, eTravnet.com's executive vice president.

Martin Charlwood, president of The Uniglobe Group, said his company backed out of its agreement Kmart earlier this year because, in the view of Uniglobe franchisees, "the clientele of the Super Kmarts was just not a good fit for their high-end leisure marketing and sales strategies."

Charlwood said, "We do see promise in the drop-in vacation store concept for retail outlets that cater to higher-end demographics, which is why we are currently testing the Uniglobe Vacations opportunity with David's Bridal stores."

Charlwood saild he hopes to have the first Uniglobe Vacations stores in David's Bridal outlets up and running this summer.

Etravnet.com, meanwhile, is evaluating other retail-store opportunities, including an upscale grocery-store chain in the Pacific Northwest