2018: No.37= - £145m
2017: No.36 - £130m
Burton-on-Trent businessman Michael Wright had another payday in December - when Riviera Travel, the business he founded, was sold on to European private equity firm Silverfleet for a reported £250 million.
Phoenix Equity Partners had previously invested in Riviera in 2014 in a deal which netted founder and director Michael Wright and his wife Claire around £130 million. They retained a significant shareholding. Now Phoenix has exited the business with Silverfleet becoming the major shareholder.
The business, which specialises in cruises and tours for the over-55 year-old customer, was established by 61 year-old Michael Wright in 1984.
Profits and revenue have grown steadily over recent years, boosted by repeat business and new destinations. Michael Wright famously road tested the tours himself before offering them for sale. The business runs tours and cruises to 50 countries, attracting almost 120,000 customers each year. In 2017 it won the Which? Travel Brand of the Year Award.
Riviera employs around 120 people. In 2016 it generated pre-tax profits of £13.6 million on sales revenues of £136.5 million.
Buster Jimmy, the company which receives dividend's from the family's remaining stake in Riviera Travel has assets of more than £130 million.
Award-winning Riviera has developed a wide-ranging series of escorted tours, from short breaks and river cruises in Europe to 16-day itineraries across North America, India and the Middle East, but its reputation has been built on small details.
Michael Wright won a reputation for employing experienced and fully trained tour leaders who are not only knowledgeable about their destination, but experienced in handling the concerns of clients. Riviera’s success has also been built on the recognition that value for money is essential, and so they weathered the recession unscathed. Every part of an itinerary is included – from the accommodation and food to the transfers and taxes – meaning no unexpected costs.
Silverfleet says its investment will be used to accelerate Riviera's growth with new ships and an expansion of the firm's US base.