Sale of to Bridgepoint Development Capital

Deal typeM&A
IndustryLeisure, the specialist online travel agent serving the UK ocean cruise market, was acquired by Bridgepoint Development Capital from Risk Capital Partners in a transaction totalling £52 million. The transaction followed a highly competitive process to short-listed trade and financial bidders. is based in the Midlands, employs 170 people and is the leading online player in its space thanks to a strongly differentiated proposition, its content driven website and highly personal customer service. It also has a market-leading social media presence and online cruise review forum with over 110,000 members and 17 million web visits per annum.          

The Business has demonstrated strong growth, delivering sales and EBITDA CAGR of 23% and 30% respectively over the last three years. In 2015 turnover grew by 15% to £104.5 million. The Company also enjoys industry leading repeat rates of business.     

The UK ocean cruise market is the second largest globally (after the US) whose value is forecast to grow from £2.5 billion in 2015 to £3.0 billion in 2019 and has been resilient across cycles. The market benefits from several favourable demand and supply characteristics that include a growing customer demographic with increasing wealth, life expectancy and propensity to travel, as well as an increasing supply of cruises from cruise lines themselves.          

The transaction builds on BDO’s extensive expertise in leisure travel transactions, including advising on deals such as: Audley Travel, Scott Dunn, Great Rail Journeys, Neilson, JAC Travel, Travel Republic, Imagine Cruising, Stella Travel, Gold Medal Traval, Essential Travel, Isango!, Explore Worldwide and IGLU.        

"BDO ran a faultless sell-side process. Their attention to detail and understanding of both the business and the sector ensured a favourable result for all shareholders. Peter, Harry and Tom actively managed the process and remained a step ahead throughout. I would have no hesitation to work with them again".     

Michael Simmonds, Partner, Risk Capital Partners