Vertical Group buys controlling stake in Villas for Travel

Travel technology specialist Vertical Group has bought a controlling stake in tour operator Villas for Travel.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will allow the group’s brands, including accommodation-only specialists and, high-street travel agency Miss Ellies Travel and homeworking company Holiday Experts, to sell Villas for Travel’s 1,000-plus properties worldwide. The villa specialist currently sells around 75% of its product direct and 25% through the trade.

Vertical group, which also owns TARSC, bought the trading assets of Holiday Experts in July.

Chief executive Peter Healey said: “This deal enables us to provide the villa product that our customers were requesting and differentiate our accommodation service to the travel trade.” sales manager Catalina Vera Pile said the bed bank had been looking for high quality villa accommodation for some time to sell to agents and customers.

Villas for Travel managing director and founder Kathryn Bullock will stay on with the company for several months to help with the integration of the business and technology. Bullock set up the company in 2006 with venture capital from the Trapezia fund, set up by Stargate Capital, who will continue to be shareholders in the business. “I will help integrate the business but I am ready for a change,” she admitted.

She added: “This deal is really exciting and will help to boost our trade business and gives them a consumer brand.”

She said talks were ongoing on whether the business would be relocating from south London to Vertical Group’s Essex base. She remained tight-lighted on the future for the company’s staff but said there were a small number of employees. Most sales are made online.

More information:

*Vertical Group buys Holiday Experts (Travel Weekly, July 2, 2009)

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