Equistone Partners Europe invests in bespoke travel specialist Audley Travel

Equistone Partners Europe invests in bespoke travel specialist Audley Travel

20 mars 2012

Second investment from Fund IV
Equistone Partners Europe Limited ('Equistone'), one of Europe's leading mid-market private equity investors, today announces that it has invested in Audley Travel ('Audley') , the bespoke travel specialist, for an undisclosed sum.

The Oxfordshire-based company, founded as Asian Journeys in 1996, is the UK's leading tailor-made travel business, offering tours and safaris for the discerning traveller.  Audley's holidays are tailor-made to the customer's individual requirements by experienced consultants who have detailed first-hand experience of the countries in which they specialise.  Whether it is organising a cultural tour of Japan, trekking in Peru or a safari in Botswana, Audley aims to meet and exceed clients' expectations.

The firm is committed to responsible tourism and works with local guides and drivers while supporting a number of social and environmental initiatives.  Audley currently covers 80 countries and continues to expand its range of destinations and the choice of experiences it offers to its clients.

Audley employs more than 170 people, and is market leader in the UK tailor-made travel sector, benefitting from high levels of customer loyalty with a large number of repeat customers and referrals.  Recent travel industry awards include those from Wanderlust Magazine, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Daily Telegraph Ultra Travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, and The Guardian and Observer.

Founders Craig Burkinshaw and John Brewer will remain on the board, joined by Richard Prosser as Chairman who has considerable experience in the travel industry.  The current senior management team are staying in the business.

In the year to December 2010, Audley Travel generated revenues of £63m, an increase of 17% on the £54m it delivered the previous year.  Equistone's funding will be used to support further continued investment in Audley's products, operations and team to enable it to maintain its market leading offering.

Equistone has made a number of previous investments in the travel sector.  Its current portfolio includes Global Blue, an international provider of travel-related services.  In May 2011, Equistone sold its stake in Karavel-Promovacances, one of France's leading online travel agencies, for €200m.  Its investment in Audley marks the second investment made from Equistone Partners Europe Fund IV.

Phil Griesbach, Director, Equistone Partners Europe, commented:

“Audley Travel stands out as a highly diffferentiated 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.”

Craig Burkinshaw, Co-Founder Audley Travel, said:

“John and I have enjoyed building Audley Travel over the last 15 years into the UK's leading tailor-made tour operator.  We are poised to explore a range of opportunities and are committed to continue to deliver exceptional travel experiences to our customers.  We look forward to working with Equistone and Richard Prosser, both of whom have an excellent track record in the travel sector, as we look to invest in the future growth of the business.”

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