Sustainable travel trailblazer Intrepid Travel has secured its future by attracting the largest investment in its 32-year history.
The unspecified financial injection comes from French family investment firm Genairgy, owned by Julien Leclercq, a board member and shareholder in sports retailer Decathlon.
The French-based business has secured a minority equity stake in Intrepid’s global business.
The strategic partnership will help Australian-based Intrepid to accelerate its growth strategy with the goal to become the world’s first $1 billion adventure travel company by 2025.
The agreement will support the adventure operator in four key growth areas: digital transformation, product innovation, market expansion and purpose initiatives.
Genairgy’s strategy and values were described as being “closely aligned” to Intrepid’s – it owns destination management company (DMC) network, Altai, and has an adventure travel division with several investments in the area.
The agreement was revealed by Intrepid chief executive James Thornton, who said: “I am incredibly proud to announce tat we have secured the largest investment in Intrepid’s history, an investment that will allow us to continue growing with purpose for the next three decades and beyond.”
He added: “To share this news, just one year on from hibernating our business and during an ongoing global pandemic, is not only remarkable but humbling.”
Thornton said: “As the travel industry starts to recover from the pandemic, we remain focused on building the best travel company for the world.
“The fact that Genairgy and Intrepid have come together at this time demonstrates real confidence in the future of sustainable experience-rich travel.
“It’s clear that what was once considered a niche, will become a mainstay tourism model post-Covid.”
Leclercq, owner of Genairgy, said: “We are excited to find a partner with the same values as us and we look forward to helping Intrepid achieve its full potential as we emerge from the global pandemic.
“While Intrepid has maintained an impressive history of growth, it was their genuine commitment to sustainable travel and B Corp credentials that truly set them apart.”
The deal is expected to be completed by next month.
Intrepid co-founders Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester, who started the business in 1989, retain majority ownership of the company and remain as chairman and director, respectively.
Thornton will continue as chief executive and a member of the board while non-executive directors, Liz Savage and Sarah Morgan, will remain. Leclercq will join the board.
Intrepid achieved a record year in 2019 with A$491 million of sales and launched more than 100 sustainable local trips last year despite the pandemic.