Travel Counsellors to explore £200m sale

Sun, 17 Dec 2017 | BUSINESS SALE

The owners of Manchester-based holiday planner Travel Counsellors are reportedly considering a £200 million sale of the business after appointing an investment bank to explore future options for the company.

The private equity owner of the travel firm, Equistone, which acquired the business for £100 million in 2014, has engaged Rothschild to consult on whether to sell, float or refinance the firm, according to reports in the Sunday Times.

Travel Counsellors was founded in 1994 by David Speakman, who identified a gap in the market for employing travel planners who worked from home and helped customers remotely. The firm now employs 1,700 agents who help customers plan holidays, cruises, honeymoons and business travel from wherever they would like to work.

Most of these agents run their own businesses in the UK, though 550 work in overseas locations in Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, the UAE and, most recently, Belgium.

Speakman has said previously that Travel Counsellors was inspired by the words of 1990s futurist Faith Popcorn who predicated that people would increasingly stay at home, surrounded by modern technology.

An investment made by Equistone Partners Europe allowed a partial management buyout at Travel Counsellors, with Speakman staying on as chairman until July 2015 when he stepped down to “take more of a back seat”.

The firm had a revenue of £188 million in 2016, meaning that early estimates for its sale price range between £150 million and £200 million.

Travel Counsellor’s chief executive Steve Byrne was quoted in 2016 as saying that he was “looking at options” regarding the firm’s ongoing growth, including finding new investors or listing on the stock market.


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