Iglu.com Acquires Planet Cruise

Iglu.com, an online ski and cruise agent has completed the acquisition of Planet Cruise, an online and TV cruise retailer, with backing from Growth Capital Partners. Based in Portsmouth, UK and employing 75 people, Planet Cruise was founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Gary and Jenny West.

PRESS RELEASE

Iglu.com, the UK’s leading online ski and cruise agent today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Planet Cruise, an online and TV cruise retailer, with backing from Growth Capital Partners (GCP). GCP provides blended equity and debt to UK SME’s and invested in Iglu.com in May 2012 in a deal valued at £19 million.

The acquisition will make Iglu.com the largest independent cruise agent in the UK with a combined turnover of around £100 million.

Based in Portsmouth and employing 75 people, Planet Cruise was founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Gary and Jenny West. They initially began marketing the business through the traditional route of newspapers and magazines and then in January 2008 launched a cruise show on the Ideal World Shopping Channel.

Planet Cruise has now built an impressive brand selling cruises on regular TV slots which are shown free on all digital TV platforms such as Freeview, Virgin, Sky and Freesat. The business has experienced strong turnover growth over the past 5 years and is on course to deliver turnover of around £38.0m in the year to August 2013.

Simon Jobson, partner at GCP commented:
“This acquisition will make Iglu.com the market leader in its field in the UK. We initially invested in the business having seen how well it capitalised on the huge increase in the popularity of online travel, especially in the cruise sectors and we recognised the potential for developing its online presence and growth by acquisition.”

Richard Downs, CEO of Iglu.com said:
“Planet Cruise is an impressive business that has seen a dramatic increase in turnover in the last five years. With suppliers increasingly focusing on their larger, more efficient and proactive retail partners this acquisition will secure Iglu’s place at the front of this strategic group. We also excited that Gary and Jenny are both staying with the business and taking up senior roles in the combined group”

Gary West, managing director of Planet Cruise commented:
“Combining Iglu’s online capabilities and our strength on television is an exciting prospect. There is a natural fit in the two businesses coming together and we as a team here at Planet Cruise look forward to creating a new market leader.”

Advisers:
Funder – GCP: Simon Jobson, Alexander Thomson, James Blake.
Iglu legal – Osborne Clarke: Alisdair Livingstone, Alison Johnson, Hugh Jones, Daniel Barnhouse, Michael Bell.
Planet Cruise legal – Shoosmiths: Sean Wright, Lisa Sigalet.
Planet Cruise Advisors – BDO: Andrew Lock, Craig Hewitt-Dutton.
Financial due diligence – White Hart Associates: Chris Photi.
Banking – Barclays: Bianca Dexter-Burnell.

– Ends –

Contact details:
Corinna Osborne, Equity Dynamics, +44 (0) 203 651 2151, Mobile: +44 (0) 7825 326 440 corinna@equitydynamics.co.uk
Emily Weston, Equity Dynamics, +44 (0) 203 651 2153, Mobile: +44 (0) 7825 326 442 emily@equitydynamics.co.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS:

GCP is a provider of blended equity and debt to the UK’s small to medium sized businesses, and recently raised a £160m Fund III, which was oversubscribed.

GCP has nine companies in its portfolio including:

Fishawack, a medical communications business;
Scopus Engineering Ltd, Provider of electronic survey and engineering services to the upstream oil & gas sector;
Etc venues, a UK conference and training venue businesses;
Excelsior Technologies, a flexible packaging manufacturer;
Iglu.com, online travel agent specializing in Ski and Cruise holidays;
Amor Group, IT software services for the oil and gas sector;
Blueberry Group, supplier and distributor of speciality foods;
Wrap Film Systems, cling film and foil converter for food service (including BACO Foil);
Eldapoint, provider of container handling and storage for shipping.

GCP typically invests in businesses with an enterprise value of between £10m and £50m in management buy-outs, development capital and secondary or tertiary buy-outs.