Neilson Active Holidays looks to expand

A Brighton-based provider of overseas active holidays has been acquired in a secondary buyout backed by mid-market private equity investment firm LDC with plans in place to support the management team’s expansion strategy.

Neilson Active Holidays offers a range of activity-focused holidays across seven countries in Europe where it operates beachclubs, ski hotels and chalets as well as 65 yachts.

In recent years Neilson has capitalised on the increasing demand for activity and wellness holidays at the premium end of the market.

The investment will enable the business to open new hotels and extend the range of countries in which the business operates, as well as providing further backing for strategic acquisitions.

Neilson is led by chief executive David Taylor, formerly of TUI and Thomas Cook, and chairman Richard Bowden-Doyle, the former managing director of Thomson Holidays and, and more recently non-executive director of Saga Travel Group.

Taylor and Bowden-Doyle joined Neilson in 2013, when Risk Capital Partners backed them in a buyout from Thomas Cook. Under their management Neilson has grown to become into an £80m-turnover business with further growth on the horizon.

As part of the deal, LDC’s Richard Whitwell and David Bains will join the board. The transaction provides an exit for Risk Capital Partners.

Taylor said: “LDC has a successful track record in the travel industry, but most importantly the investment team bought into our vision and growth strategy completely. This is critically important as we embark on the next phase of our journey.

“We have built a strong business and achieved significant success in both summer and winter markets in recent years, given our hallmark of quality and the wide range of inclusive activities we provide for our customers.

“Our focus is now on adding more regional UK departure airports and accelerating the growth of our award winning beachclubs and mountain hotels into new resorts and destinations for people to enjoy our holidays all year round.”

Richard Whitwell, head of the East Midlands at LDC, added: “In line with the growing health and wellbeing trend, we are seeing an increasing number of people look to activity-focused holidays for relaxation and recuperation. As the leading player in the active holiday market for adult and families, Neilson is perfectly-placed for expansion.”



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