Shearings expands with takeover

Shearings Leisure Group, the specialist operator of escorted tours and leisure hotels, has revealed new investment and an acquisition. It has also announced record results.

It has bought Chesterfield-based specialist holiday operator Equalmatch, which runs the Travelstyle and UK Breakaways brands.

It has also secured new investment from Lone Star Funds, a minority investment partner in Shearings Group, which has acquired the remaining shareholding previously held by the management.

Tour and hotel operator Shearings buys Travelstyle and UK Breakaways owner as Shearings’ management sells stake

The Wigan-based group runs 240 leased coaches and runs 50 hotels, of which two are owned; the rest are leased.

It increased profits (EBITDA) by 30% last year to £9.1m (2014: £7.0m) alongside growth in revenues and passenger numbers.

Shearings says its growth strategy is “backed fully by a supportive and long-term investment partner”.

The change in ownership sees former Travelodge CEO and Chairman Grant Hearn, already a Non-Executive Director, take over as Chairman.

As well as being Chairman of another Lone Star-owned business Amaris Hospitality, Mr Hearn is also a Non-Executive Director at Poundland and Scandic Hotels.

Shearings says the Equalmatch deal will complement its “fast-growing” National Holidays business by expanding its regional UK presence.

Founded in 1992, Equalmatch was owned by Kirk Jones, Nigel John, Kenneth Beeston and S. Beeston and carries 100,000 people a year.

Shearings CEO Denis Wormwell says: “This was another landmark year, with a fourth successive year of improved financial results, continued investment, new ownership and our first business acquisition since 2005.

“With the backing of a long-term investment partner, our best ever line-up of holidays and hotels, a well-invested estate and fleet and the loyalty of our fast-expanding over-50s audience, we’re in the ideal position to continue growing our presence and position as the leading escorted tours operator.”

In the 12 months to December 2015, Shearings carried 1.1m passengers (up by 2%) and increased revenue by £1m to £201m.

The result was a £5m pre-tax profit, compared with a £900,000 loss. It also had positive cash of £1.4m at the end of 2015 compared with net debt of £4.5m at the end of 2014.