Blue Bay Travel has secured £6.5million in investment and appointed Andrew Gardner as non-executive chairman.
The long-haul specialist, which saw bookings up 16% last year, has agreed a deal with mid-market private equity firm LDC which now had a “significant” minority shareholding.
It plans to launch a new brand called Xclusivity, which will specialise in luxury breaks in both long-haul and short-haul destinations.
The firm says the new investment will also be used to strengthen partnerships within the industry and on new marketing packages.
Other plans to drive growth at Blue Bay Travel include investing in its proprietary price comparison technology and online booking platform, expanding its 60-strong team of travel experts, adding more homeworkers to the sales team and launching new products.
There will be new facilities for online-only booking, a white label website framework called Orcastra, expansion to new countries and destinations and new collaborations with travel operators for direct sales.
Blue Bay Travel will continue to operate as part of the Midcounties Co-operative Travel Consortium.
LCD investment director David Andrews joins the board alongside independent non-executive Lawrence Dean.
Stuart Wilson, founder and CEO of Blue Bay Travel, said: “We’ve come this far on our own, but the time is right to bring on board a partner with the capital and expertise to help us deliver the ultimate ambition for the business and strengthen our joint endeavours. LDC understood that vision right from the outset.”
Andrew Gardner, newly-appointed non-executive chairman of Blue Bay Travel, and former chairman of Cruise.co.uk, added: “I’d seen Blue Bay Travel receive numerous awards over the years that honoured an unshakable commitment to industry-leading excellence in the long-haul travel sector. I felt inspired by what the team had achieved and I’m delighted to contribute my knowledge and experience to the company’s future successes.”
And David Andrews, investment director at LDC London, said: “Stuart and the team have built a high-performing, digital-first and customer-led business in Blue Bay Travel. Its destination expertise, brands and digital platform position it well to take advantage of positive dynamics in the sector. We’re excited about the potential for the business and look forward to working alongside the team on the next step of their journey.”
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