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Bowmark Capital sells school travel group for £100m

publication date: Aug 2, 2008
author/source: Ed Tranham

Private equity company, Bowmark Capital, has sold its schools’ travel business, Education and Adventure Travel (EAT), to DLJ Merchant Banking Partners for £100m. Bowmark created EAT through the merger of the School Travel Group (STG) and Kingswood Educational Group (Kingswood) in October 2007. STG was itself the product of a series of strategic mergers and acquisitions which began in December 2004 when Bowmark acquired School Travel Service, the UK’s longest-established school tours operator. STG made four further bolt-on acquisitions including Equity Travel in 2005, Pavilion Tours in 2006 and Kuoni Student Travel in 2007. EAT provides activity and adventure trips, educational tours and school ski trips to more than 200,000 students each year.

Kingswood, which Bowmark acquired separately in 2005, is a leading residential education and adventure activity business that operates nine residential sites around the UK and has recently expanded its operations into France. It also owns Camp Beaumont, the UK’s longest-established commercial student camp operator.

Bowmark’s consolidation strategy has generated a return of more than four times cost and a 63% IRR on the company’s total outlay of £18m.

Elsewhere in this sector, Holidaybreak plc whose education business operates under the PGL and NST brands reports that sales within its education division are likely to be up 9% to £28.5m in the financial year ending 30 September 2008. For 2008-09, the division is 40% booked and showing a growth in sales of 3%.

With fuel costs soaring and the credit crunch beginning to impact on disposable income, it will be interesting to see whether the brakes are put on some school trips in the new academic year.

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