Carlson (US)

Carlson is a privately owned group which now specialises in hospitality and travel services. Its two biggest businesses are hotel group Carlson Rezidor, which manages the international Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn hotel brands, and international business travel agency Carlson Wagonlit. A third division, casual dining chain TGI Fridays was sold to private equity buyers in 2014. The original core of the business, CRM and loyalty marketing agency Carlson Marketing Group, was sold in 2009 to what is now Aimia. The company was founded in the late 1930s by former P&G sales rep Curtis Carlson to launch Gold Bond trading stamps, an early form of loyalty marketing for retailers. That business really took off with the emergence of supermarkets in the 1950s, and Carlson expanded his business into hospitality, acquiring the original Radisson Hotel in Minneapolis in the 1960s, followed by TGI Fridays restaurants and travel agency group First Travel - owner of the Ask Mr Foster brand - in the 1970s. The group expanded dramatically over the following decade through merger and acquisition. Carlson Wagonlit was formed by the merger of First Travel with European agency Wagonlit, and the group acquired several other hospitality business including Regent International Hotels. Since Curtis Carlson's death in 1999, several of these businesses have been divested. JP Morgan Chase is now partner in Carlson Wagonlit. Carlson Rezidor was created from the injection of the Carlson Hospitality Group into publicly quoted Scandinavian group Rezidor. Carlson remains the majority shareholder in both businesses. The group is still owned and managed by Carlson's daughters and their families. Non-family member Trudy Rautio is CEO. Adbrands does not currently offer a business profile for this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.

Capsule checked 5th March 2014

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