TripADeal founders sell majority stake to private equity

TripADeal founders Richard Johnston and Norm Black have ceded control of the business they founded in 2011, selling 55% of the company to BGH Capital, which is in the process of buying theme park operator Village Roadshow.

Like so many travel companies, TripADeal, which describes itself as an “online travel agent offering bucket list experiences at unbeatable prices”, clearly needs the cash due to a torrid 2020 and continuing uncertainty.

The business, which Black told the SMH turned over $200m last year, was particularly hard hit by border closures with much of its revenue derived from international travel deals.

“While TripADeal’s revenue has been growing by over 40% per annum, Covid hit the entire industry hard,” the company said in a statement. “As an online business we were not weighed down by expensive bricks-and-mortar stores, allowing us the agility to pivot our resources to supporting our customers and travellers stranded across the world.”

“While the travel industry was the first industry affected, we strongly believe it will be one of the first industries back. TripADeal is now ready to hit the go button as soon as international travel resumes.”

TripADeal says it has “identified several exciting growth opportunities” that help it “emerge from the pandemic stronger and more responsive to the changing travel needs of its customers and  business partners”.

Black and Johnson said the business has fielded several offers. “Over the past two-years several firms have knocked on our door eager to invest in TripADeal,” they said.

“BGH approached us late last year, well before COVID, and we knew they were the ideal fit. Working with them through COVID has only reinforced the common culture and respect we have always looked for but never found in the past.”

BGH Founding Partner Ben Gray commented: “We have always been attracted to TripADeal’s position as an online travel agent. The disruption posed by COVID-19 will ensure they continue to benefit from strong industry tailwinds and the bricks-and-mortar shift to online.

“The company has a very scalable business model that is supported by a well-developed technology platform.”

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