Topdeck Tours acquired by Flight Centre

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Flight Centre has purchased UK-based Topdeck Tours in a deal valuing the coach operator at £21.8m pounds.

Topdeck, which specialises in tours for passengers aged between 18 and 30, will now operate alongside Flight Centre’s existing UK coach tour operator Back-Roads Touring.

Under the deal, all of Topdeck’s shareholders will sell their stakes in the company to Australian-based Flight Centre, with the exception of Topdeck Managing Director James Nathan, who will maintain a 10% shareholding and run the operator.

Both coach companies will maintain their own branding and management teams.

Flight Centre’s Chief Operating Officer Melanie Waters-Ryan said: “We are investing in an iconic and profitable business that we know well.

“This investment gives us a new revenue stream, thereby enhancing our diversity, and creates opportunities to develop differentiated products for customers, in line with our strategy of manufacturing and launching unique product.

“There will, of course, be synergies between Topdeck and Back-Roads.”

Topdeck was set up in London in 1973 by Flight Centre’s current Managing Director Graham Turner, when he and fellow Australian Geoff Lomas purchased a double-decker bus and began running overland coach tours.

Turner later became one of the founders of Flight Centre in 1982 and he bought back into Topdeck as an investor in 2003 and currently holds a 4% stake in the company, which will now be sold to Flight Centre.

Topdeck, which specialises in trips across Europe, Australasia, North America, the Middle East and North Africa, had sales of £43m in 2013 with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) of £4m.