News bosses tight-lipped over ‘£100m sale’ report

Bosses of the UK’s biggest independent online cruise and ski travel agency are remaining tight-lipped after it was reported that the business has been put up for sale with a potential price tag of £100 million.

Lloyds Banking Group’s private equity arm Lloyds Development Capital (LDC) was reported by the Sunday Times to have hired investment bankers from Rothschild to oversee an auction of Iglu as demand for its holidays recovers from the Covid meltdown.

The newspaper cited City sources as suggesting that the company’s owner was likely to want to sell the business for a valuation of about 10 times forward earnings. 

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was £8.9 million last year, also incorporating its ski arm, Iglu Ski.

Founded in 1998, Iglu entered the cruise market in 2006 and LDC invested in the Wimbledon-based business in 2015, providing an exit for private equity firm Growth Capital Partners, which acquired a £19 million “significant minority stake” in Iglu three years earlier by buying out previous investors Matrix Private Equity Partners.

The agency last month marked the 25th anniversary of being established by founder and chair Richard Downs.

Trading as Iglu Cruise in the UK and Planet Cruise in the UK and Europe, Iglu has rapidly grown into the largest cruise agent in Europe and employs more than 350 staff. Iglu Ski is the leading online ski agent in the UK.

The company told Travel Weekly “We don’t comment on speculation in the press. 

“The business is focused on continued growth in this very busy trading period. 

“On the back of a record-breaking Black Friday, preparation is well underway for a strong start to 2024 for the leading cruise and ski travel agency. 

“We are looking forward to continuing to deliver exceptional service to our customers, and to supporting our partners, in 2024 and beyond.”

Iglu was named online/call centre agency of the year in Travel Weekly’s 2023 Agent Achievement Awards in recognition of its commitment to create a market leading online booking platform and customer experience through innovation and investment in technology.

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