Published on Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Audley Travel gets cash injection from private equity investor


Tailor-made specialist Audley Travel has received a cash injection of an undisclosed amount from a private equity investor.


Equistone Partners Europe confirmed it had invested in the Oxfordshire-based operator, which was founded in 1996 as Asian Journeys.


It now employs more than 170 people selling holidays to over 80 countries.


Founders Craig Burkinshaw and John Brewer will remain on the board but Richard Prosser, former managing director of the specialist and emerging markets sector of TUI, has been brought in as chairman. The company said Prosser had "considerable experience" in the travel industry. While at TUI, he oversaw the merger of Thomson and First Choice.

The current senior management team is staying in the business.

In the year to December 2010, Audley Travel generated revenues of £63m, an increase of 17% over the previous year.

It said Equistone's funding - which is rumoured to be in the region of £90m - will be used to support continued investment in Audley's products, ooperations and team.

Equistone's portfolio includes Global Blue, an international provider of travel-related services.

In May 2011, Equistone sold its stake in Karavel-Promovacances, a French online travel agency, for €200m.

Its investment in Audley marks the second investment made from Equistone Partners Europe Fund IV.

Phil Griesbach, director Equistone Partners Europe said: "Audley Travel stands out as a highly differentiated business, with its uniquely bespoke product and high level of customer service

"The business has a great team and a strong business model, which help to explain the consistent organic growth since its foundation.

"It is well positioned as a leader in its sector which has proved to be resilient to the current economic climate.

"We look forward to working with Craig, John, Richard and the whole team to help the business develop further during its next phase of growth."

By Linsey McNeill

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