3i backs MBO of Allez France

The management run tour group will introduce strategies that identify cross selling opportunities across its six brands.

Venture capital group 3i has invested in the multi-million management buy-out of Allez France Group, the specialist tour operator.

DHD Corporate Finance, the Southern-based corporate finance practice, advised on the deal with Allez France, which recorded a pre-tax profit of £1.8m in the year to 30 September 2000.

David Weston, the company’s former marketing director, heads the management team of the group, which is now called Holiday Places Group plc. The buy-out will enable HPG to implement strategies that include identifying cross- selling opportunities throughout the group, and focusing on emerging growth markets.

The company operates in several different sectors from luxury villas to short breaks, and carries over 80,000 passengers a year across all its brands. The group sells holidays direct to its customer base of over 250,000. HPG’s sales have increased from £2.7 million in 1996, to £14.1 million in 2000, aided by the use of successful marketing partnerships with blue-chip companies such as high street banks and major credit card suppliers.

David Weston, new managing director of HPG, said: “Our marketing techniques continue to produce significantly better results than those of our high street competitors. We have a strong and loyal customer base and repeat business is high – in fact 50 per cent of our bookings are either repeat or referrals. This investment will help us to enhance and expand our business and branding strategies and build on our position as a key player in our specialist markets.”

The tour operator was founded in 1981 and has six brands including Great Escapes, Corsican Places, SuperSites and Allez France. Great Escapes, the short break brand represents over half of HPG’s sales.