Travel Counsellors, the tech-enabled travel firm and holiday planner, has been acquired by private equity firm Vitruvian Partner in a deal understood to be worth around £250 million.

Founded in 1994, Manchester-headquartered Travel Counsellors operates a technology platform that allows 1,800 self-employed consultants to provide travel advice and arrange trips for leisure and business customers.

Equistone backed a management buyout of the business led by chief executive Steve Byrne in October 2014, and has now sold its stake in the company through a secondary buyout to Virtruvian, which has backed the likes of Skyscanner, JacTravel and OAG, as well as a number of technology-enabled marketplaces including listed technology company Just Eat.

Founder David Speakman and his wife Maureen have also sold their remaining interest in Travel Counsellors, which has operations in Irelands, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Australia and the UAE.

"Steve O’Hare and Equistone have been integral to our recent success, helping us to scale the business, strengthen the leadership team and invest in the technology and support we provide to our franchisees and colleagues," said CEO Steve Byrne.

He added: "The fact that we have secured a secondary buy-out is testimony to the confidence in the long term growth prospects and plans for the company. 

"We have carefully chosen the right investment partner with the experience in technology particularly, who also have a deep and natural affinity to our business model and values. They will help us realise the many opportunities we have to grow in both the leisure and corporate markets globally and provide the platform for each of our franchisees to accelerate and future proof the growth of their own businesses."

Ben Johnson. partner at Vitruvian Partners, said: "We are excited to announce our investment in Travel Counsellors. It is a business with a unique culture and reputation and high standing in the travel industry. We believe in its focus on empowering its Travel Counsellors to work flexibly and smarter using the company’s propriety technology. 

"We only back exceptional high growth technology-enabled businesses with stable, proven leadership teams. We are proud to back the business and just want to help it grow and be even more successful.”

Equistone was advised by Rothschild (corporate finance), Deloitte and LEK (due diligence). Pinsent Masons provided legal advice. 

Vitruvian was advised by GCA Altium (corporate finance) and Marlborough Partners (debt). Mayer Brown provided legal advice, alongside due diligence support from OC&C, FTI Consulting and CG Consultancy. 

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