Shearings acquired in management buyout

The management team of escorted tour specialist Shearings Group has completed a buyout of the company for an undisclosed sum.

The transaction, led by chief executive Denis Wormwell, provides an exit for private equity firm 3i, which originally backed the merger of the business with Wallace Arnold in 2005, and Indigo Capital LLP.

As part of the deal, the group has also renewed its existing banking facilities with Lloyds Bank for a further two years.

Wigan-based Shearings recently announced it had grown passenger numbers by 2.6% to a record 1.05m in 2013, reflecting strong demand from its core over-50s customer base, generating sales of £195m and profits (EBITDA) of £5.8m.

The coach holiday operator said passenger numbers and sales for 2014 were ahead of last year, with total bookings up 4% and forward sales for the summer up 2%.

Denis Wormwell, chief executive of Shearings Group, said: “This is an important milestone for the group, as we continue our growth strategy through building brands targeting third age customers. 

“Lloyds Bank has been a committed partner of the business for many years. This new transaction demonstrates its continued confidence in the management team, the market and the model.

“The group is hugely appreciative of 3i’s support over the years – a partnership which has enabled us to build a strong and scalable business for future growth.

Dave Allanson, area director of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking in the northwest, said: “Denis and the team have demonstrated to us the resilience of the business, maintaining strong sales and growing profits despite one of the toughest climates the holiday market has seen for many years.

“Despite continued pressure on consumer spending, we’re confident that the business will continue to progress further thanks to its loyal customer base, diversified product offering and clear strategy.”

The group offers coach, air, rail, cruise and hotels breaks to more than 170 destinations in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

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