Travel Counsellors acquired by Vitruvian Partners

Vitruvian Partners has backed Travel Counsellors in a secondary management buyout from Equistone Partners Europe.

The deal means that Travel Counsellors founder David Speakman and his wife Maureen have disposed of their final interest in the business.

Travel Counsellors was founded in 1994 by travel entrepreneur Speakman, and has expanded to include international operations in Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Australia and the UAE.

In October 2014, Equistone backed a management buy-out of the business led by chief executive Steve Byrne.

Vitruvian Partners has previously backed travel businesses Skyscanner, JacTravel and OAG, as well as listed technology company Just Eat.

Byrne said: “Steve O’Hare and Equistone have been integral to our recent success, helping us to scale the business, strengthen the leadership team and invest in the technology and support we provide to our franchisees and colleagues.

“We will always be grateful to them for the support and care they have shown the business, the people in it and the investments they have made in us.

“The fact that we have secured a secondary buy-out is testimony to the confidence in the long-term growth prospects and plans for the company. We have carefully chosen the right investment partner with the experience in technology particularly, who also have a deep and natural affinity to our business model and values.”

He added: “They will help us realise the many opportunities we have to grow in both the leisure and corporate markets globally and provide the platform for each of our franchisees to accelerate and future proof the growth of their own businesses.”

Ben Johnson, partner at Vitruvian Partners, 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. We believe in its focus on empowering its Travel Counsellors to work flexibly and smarter using the company’s propriety technology.

“We only back exceptional high growth technology-enabled businesses with stable, proven leadership teams. We are proud to back the business and just want to help it grow and be even more successful.”

Travel Counsellors said that statutory turnover and profit had grown by an average of 17% and over 20% per annum respectively in the period since its first management buyout. Annual total transaction values grew by £130m to £512m.

A statement from David Speakman and his wife Maureen said: “Last night a deal was completed in which we sold our remaining interest in Travel Counsellors.

“We wish Kirsten Hughes, Karen Morris and their staff, both in the UK and overseas, all the very best for the future.

“We thank all our Travel Counsellors past and present who have been on such a great journey with us. We hope that that journey for all existing Travel Counsellors has only just started.

“The sale ends our formal relationship with the company but we will always remain emotionally attached to all those who trusted in us and backed themselves.”

Equistone was advised in the deal by Rothschild (Corporate Finance), Deloitte and LEK (Due Diligence). Pinsent Masons provided legal advice.

Vitruvian was advised by GCA Altium (Corporate Finance) and Marlborough Partners (Debt). Mayer Brown provided legal advice, alongside due diligence support from OC&C, FTI Consulting and CG Consultancy.

David Speakman remains chairman of Genus Capital and a non-executive director of various businesses.

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.