Benchmark International Advises on 1st Class Holidays Deal

Benchmark International is pleased to announce a £2.5 million deal between Manchester-based 1st Class Holidays, a leading provider of tailor-made luxury holidays, and PHD Private Equity.

As part of the deal, current shareholders Paul Ainsworth and Sharon Mason, who originally founded the business in 1996, will retain an active role in the company post-completion. With a turnover of £16m, 1st Class Holidays employs 36 people from its base in Trafford Park, Manchester and offers an extensive selection of tailor-made luxury holidays to destinations such as Canada, North America, New Zealand and Australia.  As a testament to its success, the company has won “Favourite Tour Operator” a record 13 times at the British Annual Canada Travel Awards.

Paul Ainsworth commented, “Over the last twenty years we have built a high quality service offering and established a strong market position particularly in Canada. The backing from PHD and its partnership approach will give us an even stronger platform to accelerate our plans and take our business to a new level. It is great to be working with an enthusiastic team who share our conviction that our business can be scaled up.”

PHD Equity Partners is an independent investment and advisory private equity firm that manages one of the UK’s largest private equity funds exclusively funded by private investors. The Partners are a team of industry seasoned, experienced corporate finance professionals and entrepreneurs, who have an innate understanding of the challenges of growing and shaping a successful business.

The deal is the first transaction by PHD from its second private equity fund, which had its final close earlier this year at £20 million.

“We are delighted to have achieved a successful outcome for our clients, and to have completed our first deal with the highly-regarded PHD Equity Partners”, commented Nick Hulme, Managing Director (Transactions), Benchmark International


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