Online ferry ticket aggregator Direct Ferries has secured private equity backing.
The unspecified investment will enable the company to expand the number of ferry lines it partners with, enhance its global ticket distribution capability and expand further into Asia and the US.
Direct Ferries was founded in 2001 and sells ferry tickets on behalf of companies including P&O Ferries, Stena Line and Brittany Ferries.
The group delivered revenues of £85 million last year and operates ticket websites in 22 languages, covering more than 1,970 ferry routes and connecting over 570 ports in 196 countries and islands.
It employs 56 people and is based in Blackfriars, London. Chief executive Matt Davies has been in the business for 14 years and became managing director in 2014.
Mid-market private equity firm, Livingbridge, will invest in Direct Ferries, building on its strong track record in the leisure sector following its previous investments in businesses including car rental firm TravelJigsaw, holiday property lettings agency Sykes Cottages and online travel agent OnTheBeach.
Beauport Partners, led by Greg Wills, will also be investing and providing strategic support to the Direct Ferries management team.
Wills was the co-founder and chief executive of Rentalcars.com (formerly TravelJigsaw), which is now part of the Priceline Group. The global ferry market accounts for more than two billion passengers a year.
Davies said: “We are excited by Livingbridge’s endorsement of our business and look forward to expanding our service and improving our offering to both our customers and the ferry companies we partner with.
“Livingbridge is a great fit for our business with a proven track record in supporting fast-growing, online businesses and our aim is to capitalise on both their investment and their knowhow to boost our presence internationally and realise our growth potential.
“We are also excited about the opportunity to work with Greg and the Beauport team.”
Daniel Smith, Partner at Livingbridge, added: “We have a strong track record of working with enterprising leisure companies and Direct Ferries sits right in our sweetspot.
“It is a fantastic example of a 21st century e-commerce business that is revolutionising the sector in which it operates and we are delighted to have the opportunity to support Matt and his team in capitalising and building on the strong market position they have.”
Wills said: “The Direct Ferries team have done an amazing job in taking the business to the market leading position it is in today. We’re looking forward to sharing our experiences to support the team on the next stage of their journey.”