Panoramic Growth Equity deal sees new backing and CEO arrive at Andante Travels

Fledgling investment firm Panoramic Growth Equity has closed its fifth deal and backed travel company Andante Travels.

Archeological travel business Andante Travels has secured a £1.8 million investment from Panoramic Growth Equity as it looks to grow under the new leadership of incoming CEO Ian Finlay.

The investment is the fifth made by Panoramic through its maiden Enterprise Capital Fund I and follows on from its first exit through the sale of Solfex to trade buyer Travis Perkins.

Andante provides guided tours to locations of archeological interest, led by archeologists and academics, of which it completed 88 in 28 countries for 1,700 passengers in 2012.

Panoramic’s backing also sees co-investor Ian Finlay step in as the company’s new CEO. Finlay was formerly managing director of Tui Travel’s Education Division and sold his Travel First business to First Choice in 2006.

The £1.8 million of capital from Panoramic will be used to prop up the management team’s future strategy of organic and acquisitive growth. It will now look to expand its range of travel options and products as well as ramping up on marketing activities.

Company founder Annabel Lawson, who set up in 1985, will now become an ‘expert consultant’ within the business. Joining Finlay is Martin Leppard, who was part of a team which led a management buy-out at Eurocamp from Next, as chairman.

Finlay comments, ‘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.’

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Panoramic has now made five investments since it was set up by Stephen Campbell, David Wilson and Malcolm Kdepekpo in 2009. Its most successful transaction, and only exit to date, came through the sale of Solfex, which netted the firm an IRR of 62 per cent after an investment of 16 months.

Wilson, partner at Panoramic, adds, ‘Ian Finlay has over 20 years’ experience in tour operating. Ian has worked closely with Andante over the last six months and is well placed to take the business on to its next stage of growth.

‘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.

Panoramic’s Enterprise Capital Fund 1 closed in March 2010 and was ‘oversubscribed’ at £4 million.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

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

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