Private equity firm invests in Iglu

Private equity firm invests in Iglu

Private equity firm LDC has taken a minority shareholding in online travel agency Iglu.

Existing management, led by founder Richard Downs, will retain a majority shareholding in the cruise and ski specialist following the investment, believed to have been in the region of £60 million.

The deal provides a full exit for Growth Capital Partners, which backed the business in 2012.

The OTA trades through three websites, Igluski.com, Iglucruise.com and planetcruise.co.uk, and employs 240 staff at its head office and call centre in Wimbledon and its second site in Portsmouth.

The business has doubled sales from £87 million to £174 million in the past three years.

Richard Downs, chief executive officer of Iglu, said: “We had a number of potential investors who all recognised our online expertise and great customer service, but we chose LDC because of their long-term investment approach and undoubted experience in the leisure sector.  This will prove invaluable for our future development.

“The LDC team particularly liked the fact that there is hardly a ski resort or cruise ship our sales consultants haven't experienced first-hand. Our customers also recognise this, value the advice and, most important of all, keep coming back.”

The deal team at LDC was Paul Landsman, David Andrews and Alex Wilby. Paul Landsman, Investment Director of LDC, said: “Richard and the team at Iglu have built an enviable position in the ski holidays market and proven they can take their digital-first model into new vertical markets with a highly successful cruise business.

“Iglu’s model, infrastructure, digital marketing expertise and team have helped them consistently outperform the market and provides the perfect platform for further growth with the right long-term partner.

He added: “We are very excited to be working with Richard and his team to help fulfil its ambition in becoming a global online travel agent with a leading position in multiple specialist holiday markets.”

Following the transaction, Martyn Williams will remain non-executive chairman of Iglu, whilst Paul Landsman and LDC chief executive, Chris Hurley, will join the board.

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and RBS provided debt funding for the transaction.

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