Mid-market private equity investor LDC has backed the secondary buyout of Neilson Active Holidays (“Neilson”), the UK's leading provider of overseas active holidays, to support the management team’s expansion strategy.
Neilson offers a fantastic range of award-winning, activity-focused holidays across seven countries in Europe where it operates beachclubs, ski hotels and chalets as well as 65 yachts, exclusively for its guests who number almost 80,000 every year.
In recent years Neilson has successfully capitalised on the increasing demand for activity and wellness holidays at the premium end of the market. This investment will enable the business to open new hotels and extend the range of countries in which the business operates, as well as providing further backing for strategic acquisitions.
The business is led by CEO David Taylor, formerly of TUI and Thomas Cook, and chairman Richard Bowden-Doyle, the former managing director of Thomson Holidays and Lastminute.com, and more recently non-executive director of Saga Travel Group.
David and Richard joined Neilson in 2013, when Risk Capital Partners backed them in a buy-out from Thomas Cook. Under their management Neilson has become the UK’s leading overseas activity holiday specialist. With revenues of £80m, Neilson is a highly profitable business that is primed for further growth.
As part of the deal, LDC’s Richard Whitwell and David Bains will join the board. The transaction provides an exit for Risk Capital Partners.
David Taylor, CEO of Neilson, said: “LDC has a successful track record in the travel industry, but most importantly the investment team bought into our vision and growth strategy completely. This is critically important as we embark on the next phase of our journey.
“We have built a strong business and achieved significant success in both summer and winter markets in recent years, given our hallmark of quality and the wide range of inclusive activities we provide for our customers.
“Our focus is now on adding more regional UK departure airports and accelerating the growth of our award winning beachclubs and mountain hotels into new resorts and destinations for people to enjoy our holidays all year round.”
Richard Whitwell, head of the East Midlands at LDC, said: “In line with the growing health and wellbeing trend, we are seeing an increasing number of people look to activity-focused holidays for relaxation and recuperation. As the leading player in the active holiday market for adults and families, Neilson is perfectly-placed for expansion.
“Richard and David are both highly experienced operators and we look forward to working with the team to support their continued ambition.”
LDC has a longstanding track record in the travel sector, with investments in, Iglu.com, Away Resorts, Forest Holidays, Lakelovers, Blue Bay Travel and ATCORE. The investment in Neilson marks LDC’s 13th investment so far this year.
Banking facilities were provided by HSBC and RBS.
LDC was advised by DC Advisory (M&A); Browne Jacobson (legal); CIL (commercial); EY (financial); JLT (insurance); KPMG (tax); WA Communications (political); White Hart Associates (Regulatory); and FB Systems (IT).
Neilson were advised by Cavendish (M&A); PWC (FDD); Armstrong (CDD) and CMS (legal).
Management were advised by Liberty Corporate Finance.
The banks were advised by DLA (legal).