Iglu.com today (Monday) announced it has become the UK’s largest independent cruise holiday agent following its acquisition of Planet Cruise which gives the company a combined turnover of £135 million.
As a result, Iglu's customers will be the first in the country able to research their holidays via either its website or its mobile App or on a tablet or on television.
'This acquisition means we are going to be delivering the future of travel retailing today,' said Iglu Chief Executive, Richard Downs. 'With the convergence of TV and the Web our customers will have access to the richest and most informed content whichever way they chose to access it'.
'Iglu has long been the No 1 independent ski retailer in the UK and this deal makes us the No 1 retailer in cruise'.
Planet Cruise Managing Director, Gary West, said: 'Combining Iglu’s online capabilities and our strength on television is an exciting prospect. There is a natural fit in the two businesses coming together and we as a team here at Planet Cruise look forward to creating a new market leader'.
Iglu Managing Director, Simone Clark, said: 'This is an extremely exciting chapter for Iglu - we'll be keeping on all the staff and both offices as we plan to continue to grow both the Iglu and Planet Cruise businesses and we now have an even stronger team to take us forward.'
Downs founded Iglu in 1998 during his final year of an MBA at London Business School pioneering on-line ski retailing where it became renowned for its customer service and soon become the largest retailer in ski. Iglu expanded into cruise in 2006 and now employs a team of 150 at its Wimbledon headquarters.
Planet Cruise was founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Gary and Jenny West. They initially began marketing the business through the traditional route of newspapers and magazines and then in January 2008 launched a cruise show on the Ideal World Shopping Channel. It now sells cruises on regular TV slots which are shown free on all digital TV platforms such as FreeView, Virgin, Sky and Freesat. It employs 75 people at its Portsmouth HQ.
Iglu’s acquisition of Planet Cruise was done with backing from Growth Capital Partners (GCP). GCP provides blended equity and debt to UK SME’s and invested in Iglu.com in May 2012 in a deal valued at £19 million.
Simon Jobson, partner at GCP commented: “This acquisition will make Iglu.com the largest cruise agent in the UK and the market leader in its field. We initially invested in the business having seen how brilliantly it capitalised on the huge increase in the popularity of online travel, especially in the cruise sectors and we recognised the potential for developing its online presence and growth by acquisition.”