Chris Watt
Mark Lane

Member Article

ECI invests in rail tour company Amber Travel??

ECI Partners LLP, the UK growth focused mid-market private equity firm, has taken a majority stake in the York-based rail travel company, Amber Travel.

The transaction values the business at over £50m and represents a successful exit for Primary Capital, which invested in Amber in 2005.

With a turnover of £67m (year ended 30th September 2012), Amber Travel is the UK’s leading specialist, rail tour business, offering escorted group holidays to destinations around the world. The business is growing strongly with turnover growth of over 20% anticipated in 2013.

Chris Watt, head of ECI’s Consumer team, who will sit on Amber’s board, brings a wealth of experience in the sector. Chris served as non-executive director for previous ECI travel portfolio companies, including Hoseseasons and Kirker. He currently serves on CarTrawler’s board.

Amber Travel executive chairman Nick Cust said:? “We’re delighted to welcome ECI Partners aboard Amber. As a management team we are very excited about partnering with ECI, an organisation with a long and positive track record of past and current ownership of travel businesses.”

Chris Watt added: “This is a business with a highly differentiated proposition that appeals to the culturally interested traveller. Amber caters for an affluent, growing demographic, that wants to see the world. We are very excited about the prospects for continuing growth at the business, and we look forward to working with Nick and his team.”

Established in 1980, Amber Travel now offers 300 different itineraries across 40 countries, ranging from Europe to Africa, North America, Asia, Russia and Australia. Last year, 50,000 customers went on an Amber rail holiday.

ECI’s investment in Amber continues a long line of successful transactions in the travel industry. Over the last few years, the firm has invested in CarTrawler, the online car rental aggregator, and Reed and Mackay, a corporate travel management services company, and successfully exited LateRooms.com, the online hotels specialist.

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s Acquisition Finance team solely provided a package of senior debt to support the transaction.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mark Lane .

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