Stewart Travel has completed a management buyout and acquired Lapland specialist Canterbury Travel.
The transactions are worth a combined £23 million and were backed by private equity investor Zachary Asset Holdings, with HSBC providing £12.75 million of acquisition finance and working capital facilities.
The deals are the first stage of a “buy and build play” in the specialist travel sector for Glasgow-based Stewart Travel.
Managing director Duncan Wilson, and senior managers Rick Green and Brian Cassidy completed the MBO of Stewart Travel from AIM-listed Minoan PLC supported by Zachary Asset Holdings.
Middlesex-based Canterbury Travel has also been acquired and will be integrated into the group under the banner of newly-created Brooklyn Travel Holdings, which was formed as a Bid Co to complete both acquisitions.
Stewart Travel has 13 High Street shops and specialises in niche holidays for the independent travel market, such as Cruise, Canada, Lapland and golf. It sells online and offline to the UK market.
It has experienced double-digit year-on-year revenue growth throughout its six-year history.
Canterbury Travel, established in 1970, owns a selection of Santa-themed villas as well as hotels and offers a range of Arctic activities such as sleigh rides with huskies, snowmobile experiences, reindeer safari’s and catching sight of the Northern Lights.
Founder Dolores Collins will remain involved in the business as a consultant, and existing managers Tara Collins and Jacqui Banham will continue in their roles.
Duncan Wilson, former CEO of Direct Holidays PLC, which was sold to Airtours Group where he became UK CEO before its rebrand as My Travel Group PLC, said: “We are all delighted to have concluded what was a reasonably complicated series of transactions. We warmly welcome everyone connected to Canterbury business to the Brooklyn Travel family of companies.”
After a short spell out of the industry following My Travel Group’s merger with Thomas Cook, Wilson joined Minoan PLC as a non-executive director. He then established Stewart Travel within the PLC, recruiting Rick Green and Brian Cassidy.
Managing Director Duncan Wilson said, “We are all delighted to have concluded what was a reasonably complicated series of transactions. We warmly welcome everyone connected to Canterbury business to the Brooklyn Travel family of companies.
Lead Advisory firm, Castle Square Corporate Finance, led by Director Kevan Shaw, provided corporate finance advice to the management team and Brooklyn Travel Holdings on both acquisitions and led the bank fundraising process, which led to HSBC being selected as preferred debt funder.
Shaw said: “I am delighted to see these two transactions complete as they create the platform for this high calibre management team to deliver the rapid organic growth that is planned alongside a buy and build acquisition strategy. Completing a management buy-out from a listed PLC and an acquisition simultaneously, backed by private equity and leveraged bank debt is as complicated as mergers and acquisitions work could get and not without challenges. Knowing how much it meant to the management team it is fantastic to have been involved in helping to see both deals across the line”.
Rick Haller of London-based private equity funder Zachary Asset Holdings, said: “We’ve known Duncan and his team for the past four years and have been very impressed with the results they’ve achieved. We are delighted to back them and their growth strategy going forward.”
Tom Green and James Scholes of the HSBC Leveraged Finance team in Leeds led the transaction on behalf of HSBC. Scholes said: “The business has delivered excellent growth and has big ambitions – qualities HSBC are very keen to support. We’re looking forward to seeing what comes next for this dynamic business.”
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