Independent North Devon-based business magazine covering news about business and enterprise in Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton, Chulmleigh, Combe Martin, Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, Lynmouth, Lynton, South Molton, Torrington, Woolacombe and more.
New investor for travel tech firm NEWS ECI Partners, a UK growthfocused private equity firm, has purchased Phoenix Equity Partners’ stake in Bidefordbased Travel Chapter, which markets more than 5,000 properties across the UK through holidaycottages.co.uk and other web sites. Phoenix Equity Partners’ sale delivers a return of 3.6 x investment cost and a 62% internal rate of return (IRR) for investors in Phoenix’s 2016 Fund. Financial terms have not been disclosed. Established in 1989, Travel Chapter has developed a leading, technology-driven, marketing platform for holiday lettings in the UK, which features many sophisticated marketing capabilities and a highly rated customer service model. Business expansion Phoenix partnered with Travel Chapter’s chief executive officer, Jamie Morris, in 2016 to support the expansion of the business through a combination of organic and acquisitive growth. Since then, 20 acquisitions were completed, the number of properties under management and the number of employees more than doubled, and profits increased threefold. Jamie will continue to lead the business through the next stage of its growth. Will Skinner, partner at Phoenix, said: “We’re delighted to have been part of the Travel Chapter story. It’s a terrific example of how we can partner with a talented team and use our capital to rapidly and materially grow a business together. We wish the team and the new investors every success in the years to come.” Jamie Morris, chief executive officer of Travel Chapter, said: “Phoenix have been fantastic partners over the last few years and I would like to thank them for their support and experience, which have proven invaluable. I look forward to working with ECI over the coming years as we continue to grow the business.” George Moss, partner at ECI Partners, added: “We are delighted to partner with Jamie and his team at Travel Chapter. Given our prior strong experience and 20-year track record in the sector, we’re excited about working with them over the next phase of the business’ growth. Travel Chapter has a strong, resilient business model and some exciting opportunities ahead.” Future plans Travel Chapter has grown its team from 47 in 2012 and now employs more than 260 people across the UK – most of them based at its Bideford HQ – with this number set to exceed 320 in 2019. Team responsibilities range from reservations to customer services, property account managers, new business, finance, marketing and technical. The company values its people highly and actively encourages training, personal growth and development of all of its team members. The company started at Bideford Quay, then moved to Northam before opening its purpose-built headquarters, Travel Chapter House on Gammaton Road, East the Water in 2017. A large extension is being built during 2019 to house the growing team and growth plans. Travel Chapter’s offices across the UK include Bristol, Newcastle, Norfolk, the Lake District, Harrogate. Its regional property account managers and new business managers stretch across the country from the tip of Southern Cornwall to the Highlands of Scotland. ■■Details 01237 426287 or travelchapter.com Kelly Williams, sales and marketing director, Savona Foodservice Food supplier achieves highest global standard Savona Foodservice, which acquired Ilfracombe Wholesale Grocers, has been awarded BRC AA standard in Storage and Distribution at both its Ilfracombe and Oxford depots. AA is the highest possible score awarded by the scheme, which aims to maintain product integrity during storage and distribution. BRC Global Standards currently operate in 130 countries and BRC auditors are known to be experienced, well-practised and welltrained, so achieving top score is a big achievement for the company. “AA standard isn’t just another accreditation,” commented Mike Morgan, director and general manager at Savona’s Oxford depot, “it is an external recognition of the investment that we have made to achieve the highest possible quality assurances.” Kelly Williams, sales and marketing director, based in Ilfracombe, added: “We’ve always known that our company is built on quality and accreditation at the highest levels simply gives us third party verification and allows us to share this with prospective customers.” Since 2016, Savona has doubled cold store capacity at Ilfracombe, developed a state-of-the-art freezer extension at Oxford and won multiple contracts. Savona continues to invest in improving its services and is preparing to launch its pioneering online ordering platform, which uses Artificial Intelligence programmed specifically for the food sector, to offer customers a sophisticated yet quick and easy service. Visit Savona Foodservice South West’s Annual Catering Exhibition 2019 at Exeter Racecourse, 10am to 4pm, on Tuesday 26 February. ■■Details 01271 862569 or savonasouthwest.co.uk 4 business action | February / March2019 | business-action.co.uk
Umberleigh-based The Sign Maker has built up a large customer base across the world via its web site, but, with constant changes to algorithms and online practices, finds staying at the top of the search engine rankings a growing challenge. “Until now we’ve relied on the internet totally and felt we had to try something else,” explains managing director Kate Price. When Devon County Council announced its 2018 Business Promotion Grant scheme, the company obtained a grant to support its first ever attendance at a trade show: the Family Attraction Expo at the NEC, Birmingham last November. “There’s no point in just printing banners, we need to show people what we make,” continues Kate. “We started preparing the stand in August and had to get it all together so thought we would try it out at Bideford Business Expo in October.” After planning to exhibit at one exhibition, the Sign Maker ended up exhibiting locally in Bideford, regionally at the South West Business Expo in Exeter and nationally at the Family Attraction Expo at the NEC. As its name suggests, the Sign Maker specialises in NEWS Sign Maker exhibits across the country Giving clear signs: (from left) sales specialist Debbie Stevens with managing director Kate Price on The Sign Maker exhibition stand high quality, bespoke signs and memorials. Its products range from made-to-order wooden signs to stone, slate, granite and marble signs as well as painted signs, house name plates, engraved plaques, safety signs plus a lot more. All signs are designed and manufactured by skilled carpenters, engravers and painters as well as by CNC equipment and sand blasting at the company’s Umberleigh workshop. Its customers range from individuals wanting a single sign for their house to businesses requiring commercial signage. The aim of attending the Family Attraction Expo was to build relationships with visitor attractions requiring multiple signs, although Kate said they also met many farmers looking to diversify. She added that the response from visitors was good with one asking “why is all the good stuff made in Devon?” The exhibitions have started to generate orders and also provided many new contacts for the future. After this first taste of trade shows, Kate is looking forward to exhibiting at further events, including agricultural shows: “We’ve got to do it again to create an impression.” ■■Details 01769 561355 / 561314 or sign-maker.net Visit ideaengine.co.uk to see all the brands that we have brought to life online, in print, outdoors and in a whole host of other ways. North Devon Counselling Kelly Smith Individual Counselling for Children, Adults and Young People and Supervision for those who work in Counselling and support professions ideaengine.co.uk 01271 324594 or 07974306711 The Therapy Shed, Pilton ~ 07872 501606 firstname.lastname@example.org Web, Brand, Advertising, Design, Literature Advertise here from just £25 @businessactionm | February / March2019 | business action 5