Private investment firm Pebble Travel Investors has bought specialist operator Cycling for Softies as it builds a portfolio of soft activity brands.
Cycling for Softies, which specialises in gourmet cycling holidays to France, has been operating for 34 years and was based in Manchester.
Pebble Travel Investors has bought the brand and its assets following the retirement of the operator’s founder Susi Madron, who has wound down her company, Susi Madron’s Cycling.
The acquisition follows last week’s announcement the group had bought Italy specialist Long Travel. It brings the total number of brands in the portfolio to four.
Cycling for Softies will be added to Pebble Travel’s soft activities division, which sits as part of its Ski Solutions brand and already includes biking and walking specialist BSpoke, launched almost a year ago after the acquisition of Bents Tours.
Both cycling operations are now based out of Ski Solution’s offices in Battersea, London. Next summer the two brands combined will offer 26 different cycling and walking holidays across France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Portugal.
Ski Solutions managing director and lead investor for Pebble Travel, Craig Burton (pictured), said the group hopes to work with the trade on both cycling brands for the first time.
Talks are already under way with key travel agency consortia to sell the brands.
“This is part of our aggressive growth strategy. A lot of travel agents are crying out for this product, they don’t have a lot of providers of this type of product,” he said.
Burton is confident the two cycling brands compliment each other and hopes that selling them via the trade will attract new customers, who may not have considered a biking holiday in the past.
He added: “They are quite different brands: the Softies brand is a little bit more top end, with gourmet meals and all half-board packages, while BSpoke is all bed and breakfast accommodation and has some walking tours as well across Europe.”
The group is appointing a head of activities later this week to oversee trade partnerships.
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