Andante Travels obtains GBP 1.8m investment from Panoramic
Growth Equity, plans acquisitions
Panoramic Growth Equity (“Panoramic”), the leading equity investor in fast
growing, entrepreneurial companies, today announced that it has invested GBP
1.8m in Andante Travels, the UK market leader in archaeological travel. This is
the fifth investment for Panoramic’s Enterprise Capital Fund I, which held its
final close in September 2010 and was oversubscribed at GBP 34m.This
investment follows Panoramic’s recent exit from renewable energy distribution
business, Solfex Energy Systems, which was sold to Travis Perkins Plc in January
2013 and generated an IRR of 62% for the fund in a period of 16 months from
initial investment.Andante delivers expert guided tours to worldwide
destinations of archaeological interest. Staffed by professional archaeologists
and academics, it provided 88 tours, covering 28 countries for over 1,700
passengers in 2012; and achieved revenues of approaching GBP 4m. The business
was founded in 1985 by Dr Annabel Lawson, who holds a PhD in Archaeology from
The Institute of Archaeology, and now employs eighteen people at its premises
near Salisbury in Wiltshire.

Panoramic is backing co-investor and
incoming CEO, Ian Finlay, the former Managing Director of Tui Travel’s Education
Division. Finlay sold his business, Travel Class to First Choice in 2006. Dr
Lawson will continue to be involved as an expert consultant to the business as
it enters the next stage of its development. Also joining the board as chairman
is Martin Leppard, a veteran of the travel and private equity industries, one of
the 4-man team who completed the MBO of Eurocamp from Next plc, and currently
serving as a board director on several niche Travel and Leisure

Panoramic’s investment will support management’s plans for
organic and acquisitive growth. Funding will enable the business to develop the
range of travel experiences and products that it offers, and in so doing expand
its customer base; to increase its marketing levels; and to facilitate expansion
into overseas markets.

Special interest and activity holidays have been a
growing sub-sector of the overseas travel market, with increasing demand for
holidays that offer a cultural or educational experience.

Incoming CEO,
Ian Finlay comments:

“I am delighted to be working with Panoramic and the
whole Andante team. 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

“Andante has an exceptional team of staff and delivers market
leading tours to its discerning customers. We look forward to introducing more
people to the wonders of the ancient world.”