Panoramic Growth Equity Backs Andante Travels

Panoramic Growth Equity has invested 1.8 million pounds ($2.8 million) in Andante Travels, a UK-based archaeological travel provider. This is the fifth investment for Panoramic’s Enterprise Capital Fund I.


Panoramic Growth Equity (“Panoramic”), the leading equity investor in fast growing, entrepreneurial companies, today announced that it has invested £1.8 million in Andante Travels, the UK market leader in archaeological travel. This is the fifth investment for Panoramic’s Enterprise Capital Fund I, which held its final close in September 2010 and was oversubscribed at £34 million.
This investment follows Panoramic’s recent exit from renewable energy distribution business, Solfex Energy Systems, which was sold to Travis Perkins Plc in January 2013 and generated an IRR of 62% for the fund in a period of 16 months from initial investment.
Andante delivers expert guided tours to worldwide destinations of archaeological interest. Staffed by professional archaeologists and academics, it provided 88 tours, covering 28 countries for over 1,700 passengers in 2012; and achieved revenues of approaching £4m. The business was founded in 1985 by Dr Annabel Lawson, who holds a PhD in Archaeology from The Institute of Archaeology, and now employs eighteen people at its premises near Salisbury in Wiltshire.
Panoramic is backing co-investor and incoming CEO, Ian Finlay, the former Managing Director of Tui Travel’s Education Division. Finlay sold his business, Travel Class to First Choice in 2006. Dr Lawson will continue to be involved as an expert consultant to the business as it enters the next stage of its development. Also joining the board as chairman is Martin Leppard, a veteran of the travel and private equity industries, one of the 4-man team who completed the MBO of Eurocamp from Next plc, and currently serving as a board director on several niche Travel and Leisure companies.
Panoramic’s investment will support management’s plans for organic and acquisitive growth. Funding will enable the business to develop the range of travel experiences and products that it offers, and in so doing expand its customer base; to increase its marketing levels; and to facilitate expansion into overseas markets.
Special interest and activity holidays have been a growing sub-sector of the overseas travel market, with increasing demand for holidays that offer a cultural or educational experience.
David Wilson, partner at Panoramic Growth Equity, comments:
“We are delighted to be making this investment with Ian Finlay in Andante Travels.
“Andante has successfully established itself as the market leading provider of archaeological travel and has consistently delivered strong performance. Widely recognised by customers, journalists and the archaeological community, it enjoys a high level of repeat business and consistently scores highly in its customer feedback surveys. The business will grow significantly this year and with further targeted investment, should continue that trend in years to come..”
“Ian Finlay has over 20 years experience in tour operating. He previously led a successful management buyout of a private equity backed travel business and built Tui Travel’s Education Division into a strongly performing global operation. Ian has worked closely with Andante for the last six months and is well placed to take the business on to its next stage of growth.
“Ultimately, this will mean more products and services for a broader range of Andante’s customers in Europe and the US. We look forward to working alongside Ian and the management team as a co-investor and active partner.”
Wilson added: “In this case we are backing an incoming management team to develop a business. It is a good example of how in practical terms our investment can make a difference to entrepreneurs and fast growing businesses.”
Incoming CEO, Ian Finlay comments:
“I am delighted to be working with Panoramic and the whole Andante team. Andante is a business with enormous potential and we therefore had a number of compelling investment offers. What really made Panoramic stand out was their understanding of the business and our shared vision for what it could achieve over the next five years and beyond.
“Andante has an exceptional team of staff and delivers market leading tours to its discerning customers. We look forward to introducing more people to the wonders of the ancient world.”
Advisers to the transaction were:
Corporate finance – James Cowper Corporate Finance (Reading – Stewart Lambert)
Financial diligence – HMT LLP (Henley – Andrew Thomson)
PGE lawyers –Vialex (Edinburgh – Keith Anderson and Keith Dinsmore)
Management lawyers – Lamport Bassitt (Southampton – Sean Kelly)
Vendor lawyers – Trethowans (Southampton – Nick Gent)
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Contact details:
Emily Weston, Equity Dynamics, +44 (0) 203 651 2153, Mob: +44 (0) 7825 326 442
About Panoramic Growth Equity
Set up in 2009 by Stephen Campbell, David Wilson and Malcolm Kpedekpo, Panoramic is the leading equity investor in fast growing, entrepreneurial companies. The Panoramic Enterprise Capital Fund 1 closed in March 2010 and was oversubscribed at £34 million.
The Team has over thirty years of collective experience of investing in businesses with revenues of greater than £1 million with an average investment level of £2 million. The Panoramic team has backed 33 companies since 2001.