Iglu.com buys Planet Cruise with help from private equity firm

Online ski and cruise agent Iglu.com has closed its first transaction since the business was packed by private equity firm Growth Capital Partners in May 2012.

Iglu.com has bought online and TV cruise retailer Planet Cruise in a move which will reportedly take its combined turnover to £100 million.

The acquisition has been supported by Growth Capital Partners, the private equity firm which invested in Iglu.com through a £19 million deal in May 2012.

Portsmouth-based Planet Cruise was set up in 2005 by husband and wife team Gary and Jenny West and has grown to a staff of 75 people. Its predicted turnover for the year to August 2013 is £38 million.

Growth Capital Partners investment into Iglu.com was made so that the online ski and cruiser agent could expand into Europe.

Richard Downs, CEO of Iglu.com, comments, ‘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.’

Founded in 1998 by Downs, Wimbledon-based Iglu.com now employs 130 people and achieved sales of £90 million in the year to May 2012, an increase of 130 per cent over the past three years. It was also subject to a £4.3 million management buy-out backed by Matrix Private Equity (now Mobeus Equity Partners) in 2009.

Following the acquisition, Gary and Jenny West will be remaining at the business – taking up ‘senior roles’ within the combined organisation.

Gary West says, ‘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.’

More on Growth Capital Partners:

Growth Capital Partners has now closed three deals in 2013, all involving new portfolio companies.

In March, the private equity firm invested in laser survey services business Scopus Engineering through a £13 million deal and then followed it up by acquiring medical communications agency Fishawack from YFM Equity Partners by way of a secondary buy-out.

Simon Jobson, partner at Growth Capital Partners, adds, ‘This acquisition will make Iglu.com the market leader in its yield 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.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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