MBI at Wiltshire travel business

Wednesday, 1st May 2013

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A travel business in Salisbury which specifies in archaeological travel has secured a £1.8m investment from Panoramic Growth Equity as part of a management buy-in.

Panoramic’s Enterprise Capital Fund I is backing co-investor and incoming chief executive Ian Finlay at Andante Travels with the £1.8m investment.

Finlay is formerly managing director of Tui Travel’s education division and sold his business, Travel Class, to First Choice in 2006. Martin Leppard is also joining the team as chairman.

Andante Travels provides expert guided tours to worldwide destinations of archaeological interest. Staffed by professional archaeologists and academics, it provided 88 tours, covering 28 countries for more than 1,700 passengers in 2012; and had a revenue approaching £4m.

The business was founded in 1985 by Dr Annabel Lawson and it employs 18 members of staff.

Dr Lawson is to continue to be involved as an expert consultant.

Panoramic’s investment is to support the management’s plans for organic and acquisitive growth. The funding will enable the business to develop the range of travel experiences and products that it offers to its customer base as well as allowing it to increase its marketing levels and expand into overseas markets.

David Wilson, partner at Panoramic Growth Equity, said: “We are delighted to be making this investment with Ian Finlay in Andante Travels.

“Andante has successfully established itself as the market leading provider of archaeological travel and has consistently delivered strong performance. Widely recognised by customers, journalists and the archaeological community, it enjoys a high level of repeat business and consistently scores highly in its customer feedback surveys. The business will grow significantly this year and with further targeted investment, should continue that trend in years to come.”

“In this case we are backing an incoming management team to develop a business. It is a good example of how in practical terms our investment can make a difference to entrepreneurs and fast growing businesses.”

Finlay said: “Andante is a business with enormous potential and we therefore had a number of compelling investment offers. Andante has an exceptional team of staff and delivers market leading tours to its discerning customers. We look forward to introducing more people to the wonders of the ancient world.”

James Cowper Corporate Finance provided corporate finance, HMT LLP provided financial diligence, Vialex acted for Panoramic, Lamport Bassitt acted for management and Trethowans acted for the vendor.


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