Former Tui director Ian Finlay has teamed up with venture capitalist Stewart Lambert to launch a new business designed to help Covid-19 hit businesses “rise from the ashes”.

The Firebird Partnership aims to help SME travel businesses “steer a course through the crisis, advising hard-hit owners on how to survive and thrive in a post-lockdown world”.

Long-time stalwarts of the travel industry, Finlay and Stewart have over five decades of experience between them.

After growing and selling his own business, Travel Class, Finlay created and ran Tui Travel’s education division. Over his career, he has been a director of more than 50 businesses in 11 countries and has been backed by private equity three times.

Corporate financier and venture capitalist Lambert has spent the last 25 years advising travel businesses and has been involved in numerous travel deals, most recently the sale of Journey Latin America.

Finlay said: “Whilst many business owners view the current situation as an unprecedented crisis, we are adamant that there are numerous opportunities for travel companies post-Covid-19. We have distilled our knowledge into a ‘four-stage plan’ to help companies every step of the way, from simple survival to growth, long-term strategy and eventual sale.”

He added: What sets us apart is that we are in for the long haul. We’re not interested in quick-fixes or management jargon. We want to work with ambitious, driven owners – using our experience to help great businesses reach their full potential.”

Lambert added: “If you run a travel business, right now is the time to really use your imagination. Don’t panic. Don’t sit around wishing you could go back to the way things were. The businesses that act now and find new ways of working won’t just survive, they’ll come back stronger than ever.”