Over 50s specialist Saga buys Destinology

Over-50s specialist Saga has bought online luxury tour operator Destinology for an undisclosed sum.

Destinology founder Dominic Speakman will remain as president and is retaining a shareholding in the business, which employs more than 100 staff.

Over-50s holidays, health care and financial services group Saga, which also owns Titan Travel, has acquired the majority shareholding.

Mergers and acquisitions firm Livingstone Partners, whose recent clients include JacTravel,, The Leisure Pass Group and TravelJigsaw, advised Destinology on the deal.

The deal is believed to be worth £20 million.

Speakman said: “Livingstone carried out a targeted and robust process that attracted interest from worldwide potential strategic acquirers and private equity [investors].

“We felt that Saga presented the most compelling opportunity to take the business to the next level and a very good result for the management team and shareholders.”

James Lever, partner at Livingstone, said the sale of Destinology had attracted “enormous interest”.

“Its management team has created an innovative and highly successful digital platform and they will form a formidable combination with Saga Travel.”

Saga group chief executive Lance Batchelor said: “Destinology is one of the UK’s leading travel businesses with strong expertise in online sales and marketing and award winning service so we are very pleased to have brought the business into the group.

“It is an excellent fit with our existing travel brands – Saga Holidays, Saga Cruises and Titan Travel – particularly in relation to the demographic it serves, and will enhance our range of travel offers to customers.”

Destinology was set up in 2004 in Bolton and offers bespoke holidays to five-star hotels and resorts in destinations including the Maldives, Dubai, Caribbean, Asia, the US and Europe.

In May last year it recruited Diane Court, who previously worked for Virgin Holidays and Gold Medal, to start working with the trade and opened its first high street store in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

Its website attracts more than five million visitors a year and it has more than one million followers on Google+ and more than two million YouTube views each year.

In April this year Saga confirmed plans to go ahead with an initial public offering of £550 million to reduce net debt to about £700 million.

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