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Great Rail Journeys

With over 30 years of experience, Amber Travel – trading as Great Rail Journeys – is the UK's leading expert in escorted railway based holidays aimed primarily at the over-55 demographic. It operates worldwide in destinations ranging from the Alps to Australia and Spain to South Africa.

Background

Great Rail Journeys was identified as part of one of our origination programmes focussing on content-rich tour operators. Along with Inntravel and Filoxenia, Great Rail Journeys formed part of the Amber Travel Partnership. The Company had grown rapidly since the partnership was formed in 2004 and we approached the shareholders directly. They were willing to sell but the whole senior management team wished to exit the business.

The Big Idea

We agreed heads of terms with the shareholders and identified an entire MBI team to take on the business post-acquisition.  Great Rail Journeys had a very strong niche product in markets with positive growth potential. We developed a strategy with the team to invest in the IT, marketing and product development functions of the business to develop a much more scalable business.  We also set a strategy to sell the Inntravel business post-acquisition.

The Grand Plan

Significant investment has been made to build brand identity, professionalise all areas of the company and develop processes and systems to create a highly scalable operation.  A value-led brand – Treyn - was developed to take advantage of a major gap in the market and Inntravel was sold to a trade buyer in 2008.

The Bottom Line

Great Rail Journeys has more than doubled in size during the period of our involvement, now generating a turnover of over £80 million. The company employs more than 100 people and carries around 50,000 passengers each year. The business was sold by way of a secondary buy-out in March 2013, generating a 3.2x cost of investment.

Investment Summary

Date of investment:  September 2005
Deal status:  Realised

Date of realisation:  March 2013
Investment return multiple:  3.2x cost
For more information talk to:  Rob Foreman or Neil Wallace

Brochure cover

“Primary acquired Great Rail Journeys in 2005 when the business had a strong customer ethos but lacked the infrastructure to grow. They have professionalised the operation, investing significantly in IT, the management team and marketing – even during the most challenging years. They identified and retained all the elements of the business that built customer trust and as a result we have grown our turnover, margins and net profit very strongly. They have been invaluable partners.”

Nick Cust, Chairman, Amber Travel

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