Corporate News

LDC invests in leading online travel agent Iglu

Iglu, the UK’s leading online travel agent specialising in cruise and ski holidays, is gearing up for growth after securing investment from LDC.

The investment from LDC enables the existing Iglu management team, led by founder Richard Downs, to retain a majority shareholding, with LDC taking a significant minority shareholding. Successful travel industry entrepreneur Greg Wills has also agreed to join the board as a Non-Executive Director.

The deal provides a full exit for Growth Capital Partners, which backed the business in 2012.

The business trades through three websites - Igluski.com, Iglucruise.com and planetcruise.co.uk - and employs 240 staff in its head office and call centre in Wimbledon and second site in Portsmouth. In the past three years the business has doubled sales from £87million to £174million through a combination of organic growth, entry into new markets and acquisition.

The UK cruise market is predicted to show strong growth in the foreseeable future thanks to increased capacity from several major new cruise ships. Coupled with the backdrop of improving macroeconomic conditions and growing customer demographic this should help Iglu in achieving their growth plans.

The investment from LDC will also allow Iglu to take its model into new geographies and product areas including tailor-made holidays, luxury cruises and long haul holidays.

Richard Downs, Chief Executive Officer of Iglu, said: “We had a number of potential investors who all recognised our online expertise and great customer service, but we chose LDC because of their long-term investment approach and undoubted experience in the leisure sector. This will prove invaluable for our future development.

“The LDC team particularly liked the fact that there is hardly a ski resort or cruise ship our sales consultants haven't experienced first-hand. Our customers also recognise this, value the advice and, most important of all, keep coming back.”

David Andrews,Investment Director, LDC said: “Richard and the team at Iglu have built an enviable position in the ski holidays market and proven they can take their digital-first model into new vertical markets with a highly successful cruise business.

“Iglu’s model, infrastructure, digital marketing expertise and team have helped them consistently outperform the market and provides the perfect platform for further growth with the right long-term partner.

He added: “We are very excited to be working with Richard and his team to help fulfil its ambition in becoming a global online travel agent with a leading position in multiple specialist holiday markets.”

Following the transaction, Martyn Williams will remain Non-Executive Chairman of Iglu, whilst LDC CEO, Chris Hurley, will join the board.

Incoming Non-Executive Director, Wills, originally founded Rentalcars.com (previously Traveljigsaw.com), which has grown to become the world’s largest online car rental travel agent with $1bn of sales in 42 languages across 180 countries.

Mr Wills said: “Iglu has a very strong management team and has an exciting growth strategy. This is a wonderful opportunity to work with one of the premier brands in their market places. I am looking forward to working with Richard and his team.”

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and RBS provided debt funding for the transaction.

LDC was advised by:

  • Livingstone CF advisory (James Lever, Gavin Orde, Jamie Hutton);
  • Livingstone Debt advisory (Bill Troup, Neil Smith);
  • Alvarez and Marsal Financial and IT DD (Adrian Balcombe, Colin Gater, Ian Fleming, Ben Mitton, Malvinder Singh, Frank Rejwan);
  • CMS Cameron McKenna - Equity (James Grimwood, Matthew Stephen); and
  • CMS Cameron McKenna - Debt (Peter Crichton and Tom Hughes)

Deloitte and Osborne Clarke advised management and Growth Capital partners.