Zip World, the award-winning outdoor adventure business which features the world’s fastest zip line, has secured a significant minority investment from leading mid-market private equity investor LDC, supported by the company’s existing banking partner, HSBC. The deal values the business at £45m.
The business runs adventure experiences across three scenic locations in the iconic Snowdonia mountain range in North Wales. It offers multiple activities including ziplines, an alpine rollercoaster, treetop adventure courses and subterranean playgrounds equipped with high-rope walks and nets.
Its site in Penrhyn Quarry is home to the world’s fastest zipwire Velocity 2, on which riders can travel at speeds of up to 125mph, and it boasts Europe’s highest giant swing Skyride at its location in Fforest.
LDC’s investment will support Zip World’s ongoing growth strategy as it looks to add new attractions to its current sites and rollout its adventure experiences across the UK and beyond. The business is aiming to bring its exhilarating adventure experience to more customers with its ambition to double in size over the next three years.
Zip World, which was founded five years ago, has grown rapidly and today welcomes more than 400,000 adventure seekers to its sites each year. It now generates revenues of more than £14m.
A 2018 study by North Wales Tourism calculated that Zip World had directly contributed £251million to the local economy over the last five years.
LDC is backing Zip World’s ambitious management team, led by co-founder, Sean Taylor, and Managing Director David Stacey. Sean, an award-winning entrepreneur, has driven the strategy and growth of the business and David brings more than 23 years’ experience of running multi-site leisure businesses and was UK Operations Director at Virgin Active, before he joined Zip World in 2016.
The transaction was led by Head of LDC in Cardiff, Dewi Hughes, with strong support from Alistair Pendleton, Simon Hemley and James Garland. Dewi and Alistair will both join the board as Non-Executive Directors.
Sean Taylor, director and co-founder of Zip World, said: “Having built an exciting brand in the adventure tourism sector, we are focused on scaling up and will be looking to acquire additional sites as part of our ongoing expansion strategy.
“We are incredibly confident in the future of the adventure tourism industry and have ambitions to deliver Zip World’s iconic experiences to more customers and create more unique new attractions. LDC shares our enthusiasm and vision and we now have the additional capital and expertise needed to fire up our growth plans in Wales and beyond.”
Dewi Hughes, Investment Director and Head of LDC in Cardiff, said: “We have had a longstanding relationship with Sean and Zip World team, and we’ve seen the business grow to become one of Wales’ biggest and most loved leisure brands over the last few years.
“Zip World is exactly the type of business we look to support. It’s a proven model being driven by a strong management team with a clear ambition for the future. We’re looking forward to getting off to a flying start.”
LDC was advised by Geldards and EY (tax), with Pragma, Ellis Whittam, FB Systems, Prelude, 3Sixty and JLT providing specialist due diligence support.
Zip World was advised by Stephen Hughes (corporate finance), Blake Morgan, FRP Advisory, PwC and Lanyon Bowdler.
HSBC UK Bank plc and their North West Corporate Banking Team was advised by Addleshaw Goddard and the exiting shareholders advised by Thrings.