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Voyageurs du Monde acquires 60% strategic stake in Original Travel 

Two of Europe’s best tailor-made travel companies join forces to build the leading, premium, tailor-made tour operator in the English-speaking world

Voyageurs du Monde, France’s leading tailor-made travel company, has announced it has made a significant strategic investment in acquiring a 60% stake in Original Travel, one of the UK’s fastest growing bespoke travel companies.

The acquisition follows a 12-month review of the UK market by Voyageurs du Monde, as it sought an investment opportunity to further expand its international operations into key English-speaking markets. Original Travel and its existing management team will become Voyageurs du Monde’s partner and platform for organic and acquisitive growth in the English-speaking world.

Original Travel has experienced uninterrupted growth since its establishment in 2003. In contrast to the bespoke travel sector, which only recently returned to pre-recession levels, multi-award winning Original Travel has achieved six times revenue growth since 2007. In 2016 revenue grew more than 20% to £15m, and its English-speaking client base outside the UK has more than doubled in the last year. Post Voyageurs du Monde’s investment, Original Travel will build on this growth both organically and through acquisition in key English-speaking markets.

Voyageurs du Monde S.A. is listed on the Euronext (ALVOYAGEURS DU MONDE) and is currently trading around its all-time high, with a market capitalisation of c.€260m. In 2015 the company reported revenue of €362m and EBITDA of €21m. Voyageurs du Monde is majority owned by its management team, Alain Capestan, Jean Francois Rial, Lionel Habasque, Frederic Moulin and Loic Minvielle.

Original Travel was founded in 2003 by Nick Newbury, Tom Barber and Alastair Poulain with the aim of combining the personal insights and exceptional knowledge of highly experienced travel consultants to create memorable holidays and experiences. Today, Original Travel’s team of 50 has travelled to over 160 countries on fact finding missions and created nearly 50,000 bespoke itineraries. These range from Big Short Breaks through to lengthy sabbaticals, such as an 18-month long grand tour of the globe which wove together 92 itineraries, including learning to photograph snow leopards in Ladakh and diving South Africa’s famous Sardine Run.

Voyageurs du Monde has acquired a 60% stake in Original Travel by acquiring the shares of all non-employee shareholders in Original Travel, including those held by private equity company Hotbed. The remaining 40% interest will continue to be held by Original Travel’s existing management team, which includes two of Original Travel’s founders, Nick Newbury and Tom Barber, along with Neill Ghosh, Director of Sales and Service.

Original Travel will be adding further to its “Life is in the Detail” proposition over the coming weeks, building on the services offered by Voyageurs du Monde: for example, Original Travel will have access to Voyageurs du Monde’s team of English-speaking concierges, which are located locally across the entirety of its international network. The Concierge service will give Original Travel’s clients another local helping hand to further enhance their holidays, in addition to the UK-based office assistance and 24/7 emergency service it currently offers alongside its on-the-ground teams in each of its destinations. Original Travel’s relationship with Voyageurs du Monde has already inspired the launch of its latest customer  service proposition, further improving on Original Travel’s already high service levels.

Original Travel’s brand, operational management and team structure will continue unchanged. The Board of Directors of Original Travel will change however, and will be: Nick Newbury, Chief Executive Officer; Tom Barber, Chief Product Officer; Neill Ghosh, Director of Sales and Service; Alain Capestan, MD, Voyageurs du Monde Group; and Jean-Francois Rial, CEO Voyageurs du Monde.

Commenting on the acquisition, Jean Francois Rial, CEO of Voyageurs du Monde, said: “We are very excited about our investment in Original Travel. We have been hugely impressed by their market-leading client service levels, their innovative product and 14-year unbroken growth profile. We believe the Original Travel management team are the best placed team in the UK to help us develop the leading bespoke travel company in the English-speaking world.”

Nick Newbury, CEO, Original Travel, said: “Voyageurs du Monde is a phenomenally successful business and we were flattered to have been approached. Voyageurs du Monde’s international ambitions, highly innovative approach to client service, product and technology will be transformational for the development of Original Travel and our team. Our clients can rest assured that it will very much be business as usual and they will continue to receive the high levels of service and innovative product that they have come to expect from Original Travel. Partnering with a business that shares our ethos is a hugely significant development as we embark on the next step of our corporate growth.”

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