TWO of the leading lights of the North-East business world have joined forces to establish new software company.
Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Maggie Pavlou and Paul Callaghan, chairman of software and technology group the Leighton Group, have launched Leisure, Travel and Tourism (LLT).
The company is the brainchild of Ms Pavlou, who has worked in the leisure and travel businesses for more than 20 years.
LLT has taken premises in Sunderland and currently employs five software developers, with four more starting in January.
The sales team will be recruited in the new year with a view to having them in situ across the country by April.
Chief executive Ms Pavlou believes she has identified a market for support software for companies operating in the leisure sector, including pub and hotel chains and public sector leisure agencies.
She said: “This a huge step for me, but I believe passionately that it is the right thing to do.
“I went on for two years about the need for the region to develop more entrepreneurs and now it’s my turn.
“We approached Paul and his response was phenomenal.
“The sector we are targeting is massive and software as a service is itself a growth sector.”
Paul Callaghan heads the Leighton Group which currently has three businesses under its umbrella; Leighton, Communicator Corp and Business Education Publishers.
He said: “I’m delighted to welcome Leisure, Travel and Tourism to the Leighton Group. This is another tremendously exciting opportunity.
“As a group we already have some major clients in these sectors including British Airways, Virgin, Tourism Australia, Travelex, Best Western Hotels and the 2012 London Olympics.
“Being involved in this business allows us increasingly to target a sector that is vibrant, energetic and, most importantly, has enormous growth potential.”
Ms Pavlou added: “Our aim is to develop market-leading software, designed to meet the specific needs of the leisure, travel and tourism sectors, and to offer the high levels of customer service that we know these sectors demand.
“With these elements in place, we believe we will have an unbeatable offer.
“Joining the Leighton Group, with their extensive experience of software development and tremendous track record of business development and growth, was the obvious choice for our venture.”
LLT is based in Rainton Bridge Business Park, Sunderland, along with the other Leighton Group companies.
It is the first start-up businesses to be involved in the Sunderland Software City initiative that brings together the public, private and academic sectors to attract jobs to the city.
Ms Pavlou had previously been human resources director for Newcastle holiday-park operator Parkdean Holidays.
She stands down from her role with the North-East Chamber of Commerce in January.