Travel agency Ski Solutions has joined forces with a Highlands adventure tour operator to form a new travel group which will incorporate five existing brands.
Ski Solutions has come together with Aviemore-based Wilderness Scotland, and its sister brand Wilderness Ireland, to create the Active Travel Group, on the back of £3 million of follow-on funding from investor Mobeus Equity Partners.
The Active Travel Group will also include Battersea-based cycle and walking tour operators BSpoke and Cycling for Softies, with plans to add further brands over the next few years.
Mobeus, which initially invested £6m in Ski Solutions in August 2017 to back a secondary buyout and take an undisclosed majority stake in the business, described the newly formed group as an “exciting and ambitious” venture.
Ski Solutions had already planted the seeds of a group strategy with the acquisition of BSpoke in October 2014 and Cycling for Softies in October 2015.
By partnering with the Wilderness brands in Scotland and Ireland, the Active Travel Group said it aims to “build a geographically and seasonally balanced collection” of activities and adventure businesses by 2020. The group expects to have combined sales of £28m in 2018.
The merger will bring together a team of 75 travel professionals looking after some 20,000 clients.
The existing brands will continue to operate on the same basis from their existing bases across the UK and Ireland, with Wilderness managing director Paul Easto joining the Active Travel Group board, which is chaired by former Tui MD, John Wimbleton.
Easto said the deal was the result of a year-long search by Wildnerness to find funding for its growth strategy. He said: “For the past year we have been looking for a new investment partner to support our future plans.
“The support provided by Mobeus has allowed us to achieve this objective while realising the ambition of putting more ownership in the hands of our talented and dedicated management team.
“While the two businesses will continue to run independently, the potential for collaboration in many areas is exciting and significant.”
Craig Burton, Ski Solutions chief executive, added: “We are truly excited to bring these businesses together under shared ownership.
“Demand for high quality experiential holidays on our own shores is booming, and the addition of Wilderness Scotland and Wilderness Ireland at once balances our current outbound offering with inbound, and unites a team of passionate, talented and entrepreneurial ski and adventure travel professionals across the British Isles.”
Ashley Broomberg, partner at investors Mobeus, said: “We are delighted to have brought Ski Solutions and Wilderness Scotland together to create an exciting and ambitious travel group just 12 months after our original investment.
“The Active Travel Group combines several brands recognised for product expertise and customer excellence and is well on the way to delivering a compelling range of year-round, award-winning activity holidays.”