Great Rail Journeys is acquired for around £100m

DUKE Street, the UK based mid-market private equity firm, has announced that it will acquire Great Rail Journeys from ECI for a sum believed to be around £100m.

Duke Street, the private equity firm, has announced that it will acquire Great Rail Journeys, from ECI, the UK growth focused mid-market private equity firm..
Duke Street, the private equity firm, has announced that it will acquire Great Rail Journeys, from ECI, the UK growth focused mid-market private equity firm..

Peter Liney, the CEO of Great Rail Journeys, said the company was planning significant expansion under its new owners. at a time when older travellers are prioritising travel spending.

York-based Great Rail Journeys provides around 400 different types of holiday to more than 50 countries globally. Popular holidays provided by the firm include a tour of India’s “Golden Triangle”, exploring the Swiss Alps on the Glacier Express and a journey across Africa from Dar es Salaam to Cape Town.

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ECI invested in GRJ in March 2013 to help the company build on its strong market position and develop new areas for growth.

A spokesman said: “Over the last five years GRJ has performed strongly, tapping into new source markets for its rail tours including Australia and more recently the US, following the establishment of an office in New York in 2017.”

Duke Street plans to support the existing management team, led by Peter Liney, to develop the company’s rail and cruise offerings further, both in the UK and internationally, building on their significant experience in the leisure sector. Following the acquisition, Charles Gurassa will be appointed as chairman.

Tom Salmon, Partner at Duke Street, said: “Our experience of backing market leaders in growing segments of the European leisure sector makes Great Rail Journeys a very exciting investment proposition. Having known Peter Liney for a number of years, we are looking forward to working with him, Charles Gurassa and the wider team to continue to grow the business both in the UK and internationally.”

Mr Liney, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Duke Street. The team very quickly demonstrated a clear understanding of our business, and their experience both of growing businesses in the US and of river cruising was highly attractive to us.

“After five great years of working with ECI, who have helped us to internationalise the business, add new product lines, grow our profits and develop our management team, we are very excited to embark on the next chapter of our story with Duke Street.”

Mr Liney said that the refugee crisis and terrorism had affected the rail travel holiday market in Europe for a time, but the market was now performing strongly.

Great Rail Journeys, which has a turnover of around £100m a year, employs 150 staff in York.

Mr Liney said: “We are completely committed to York. It has been a wonderful home for us.”

Great Rail Journeys was advised by Duff & Phelps (corporate finance), Travers Smith (legal) PwC (commercial) and Deloitte (financial and tax).

Duke Street was advised by Harris Williams (corporate finance), Ropes & Gray (legal) and Alvarez & Marsal (financial and tax).