Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Flight Centre's Short Trip East

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Flight Centre's Short Trip East

Article excerpt

An Australian company that buys brick-and-mortar travel agencies, buoyed by state tax credits, has moved its U.S. headquarters into the Montvale office space formerly occupied by Motorola, as the borough continues to draw companies to offset the loss of several corporate residents.

On Monday evening, Flight Centre Travel Group threw a grand opening party for employees, vendors and suppliers at the new home of its Americas division at 5 Paragon Drive, where nearly 300 employees are settling into about 70,000 square feet of renovated space on the first and second floors.

The six-mile move east from Ramsey was made six weeks ago by the Brisbane, Australia-based parent company of Liberty Travel and Gogo Worldwide Vacations.

The shift by Flight Centre to Montvale follows the move earlier this year by Sharp Electronics to the borough from Mahwah as Montvale brings in companies to reduce office vacancies created by the recent loss of businesses such as bankrupt supermarket chain A&P and the departure of the U.S. headquarters of German carmaker Mercedes-Benz to Georgia.

The state awarded Flight Centre tax credits of up to $7.6 million to stay in New Jersey when the company was weighing a move across the state line to Pearl River, N.Y. Sharp also was awarded tax credits to move to Paragon Drive.

Dean Smith, president of Flight Centre's Americas division, which includes oversight of operations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada, said the relocation was made when the lease on the previous headquarters at 69 Spring St. in Ramsey expired. He said he sought a space with a more progressive design and an open floor plan that "better represents our brand" and wanted his employees to "feel proud" of their workplace.

Smith, a New Zealander, became the head of Flight Centre's U.S. operations, which now employs more than 2,000, soon after the company bought Liberty Travel and its wholesale arm Gogo for $135 million in 2008.

Since then, Flight Centre's U.S. revenue has increased about 30 percent to $2. …

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