June 5, 2018
Consumer, Retail, E-commerce and Leisure
GCA Altium advises Vitruvian on the secondary buy-out of Travel Counsellors from Equistone
GCA Altium acted as exclusive financial advisor to Vitruvian Partners on its secondary buy-out of the global independent travel company Travel Counsellors, from Equistone Partners Europe.
Founded in 1994 by travel entrepreneur David Speakman, Travel Counsellors is a leading travel company delivering personal and bespoke travel services. From its global headquarters in Manchester, the company operates a franchisee model, with more than 1,800 self-employed Travel Counsellors working flexibly from home. Travel Counsellors has expanded internationally, adding operations in Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Australia and the UAE.
Its franchisee model is underpinned by the company’s proprietary technology platform, Phenix, which assists each Travel Counsellor to run their business and deliver high levels of personal service to both its leisure and business customers.
In October 2014, Equistone backed a management buy-out of the business led by CEO Steve Byrne. Since then, the business has continued to experience rapid growth, with annual total transaction values growing by £130m to £512m. Statutory turnover and profit have also seen strong growth over the period, growing by an average of 17 per cent and over 20 per cent per annum respectively.
In 2017, the company was awarded the Best Customer Focus Award in the UK National Business Awards, and has been named in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track six times, including in each of the last three years.
Vitruvian Partners will continue to invest in and build on Travel Counsellors’ success bringing its wide sector and technology experience together with the company’s differentiated business model and culture. It has previously backed travel businesses Skyscanner, JacTravel and OAG, as well as a number of technology-enabled marketplaces including listed technology company Just Eat.
Ben Johnson, Partner, said: “We are excited to announce our investment in Travel Counsellors. It is a business with a unique culture and reputation and high standing in the travel industry. GCA Altium were exceptional in their support to us and helped us navigate a high degree of complexity with great skill.”
Christopher Jones, Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to have advised Vitruvian on this transaction – Travel Counsellors has a compelling offering and a truly differentiated business model which continues to disrupt the travel sector.”
Phil Adams, CEO of GCA Altium, said: “We are delighted to have advised on such a high profile deal. The rapid growth Travel Counsellors has achieved is a testament to its management team and Equistone and I look forward to seeing the next phase of the Group’s growth under Vitruvian’s stewardship.”