Pizza Express backer supports Nielson Active Holidays MBO

The management team of Neilson Active Holidays has severed ties from parent company Thomas Cook Group though a buy-out.


The management team of Neilson Active Holidays has severed ties from parent company Thomas Cook Group though a buy-out.

Risk Capital Partners, the investment firm behind investments in Pizza Express, Strada and Cruise.co, has backed the acquisition of Neilson Active Holidays.

Under the terms of the deal, the management team of the holiday business has bought the company from Thomas Cook Group for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Brighton Marina on the south coast, Neilson started out in 1978 as two companies (one focused on snow and the other on sun) before being merged by owner Thomas Cook in 1999. The business now has 90,000 customers a year and posted revenues of £70 million last year.

Going forward, the management team of Pete and Pip Tyler will continue to run the business and will be joined by new executive chairman Richard Bowden-Doyle and finance director David Taylor.

Pete Tyler, managing director of Neilson, says, ‘We have spent some time getting to know Risk Capital Partners and are excited they have decided to invest in this business.

‘Their financial strength, business acumen and historic results in the leisure sector will be of huge value to us and we look forward to their support in helping to grow the business.’

The investment is the second that Risk Capital Partners has made in the travel sector this year following the backing of Cruise.co in August. Back then, the firm bought a majority stake in the company, which owns the holiday websites Cruise.co.uk and Cruises.co.uk.

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Luke Johnson, chairman of Risk Capital Partners, comments, ‘We were attracted by the strength of the Neilson brand, demonstrated by the loyalty of its repeat customers, particularly for the summer BeachClub offer.

‘The active holiday sector is growing and ski volumes are set to recover. We believe the business will prosper with access to capital as an independent tour operator.

Other deals for Risk Capital Partners in 2013 have included the backing of Red Hot World Buffet in August and the March sale of restaurant chain Giraffe to supermarket chain Tesco.

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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