£5.6m investment for Bristol ski holiday firm to ramp up growth and create more jobs

June 28, 2024

A Bristol-based online tour operator specialising in flexible ski holidays has raised £5.6m to launch its next phase of growth.

Heidi will use the funding to further enhance its platform, expand its customer service teams and create more than 20 jobs in the year ahead. 

The firm was started in 2018 by brothers Marcus and Alexander Blunt, both keen skiers who had spent a decade working in the travel industry.

They spotted that, with most operators only offering Saturday departures, there was a gap in the market for an online operator that could offer greater flexibility.

Having initially raised money from family and friends to launch the platform, they have since grown Heidi into the UK’s third largest ski holiday operator, carrying over 34,000 passengers in the most recent season, and has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

Revenue at the firm, which employs 44 people in its Queen Square head office, has quadrupled over the past two years – from £8.8m in the year to April 2022 to £37m in 2024. 

Heidi customers can choose from more than 6,000 accommodation options in excess of 400 resorts, select the date of departure and length of stay and sort by features such as quantity of snow or proximity to slope.

They can also book group holidays that allow members to fly from different locations, and extras such as lift passes and ski hire.

The latest funding round was led by Mercia Ventures. Active Partners and private investors participated.

Mercia has introduced Sarah Doyle, who has held senior roles at a number of consumer brands, as chair, as part of the deal, along with Miles Hill and Michael Rivis – the former chief executive and chief technology officer of Sykes Cottages – as non-executive directors. 

Heidi chief executive Marcus Blunt said: “The launch of Heidi was borne out of our own frustrations as keen skiers who wanted to get away to the slopes but at a time and date to suit our own schedules.

“Having launched the company with limited investment and built it to its current size, we are now all set to take it to the next level. Our aim is to more than double in size in the next few years and become one of the top two ski travel operators.”

Jan Oosthuizen and Adam Watts were amongst the Mercia Ventures team.

Jan, pictured, said: “Marcus and Alexander have built a great business with strong values and a fantastic culture. 

“Heidi offers a unique proposition that appeals to both the package holiday customers, who can benefit from greater flexibility, and independent travellers who can book everything in one place.

“This investment will enable the team to pursue their ambitious growth plans and gain further market share.”

Active Partners early-stage Investor Billy Fox, added: “With their unique approach to ski holiday bookings and in-house technology, Marcus and Alexander have found product-market fit in a large, poorly served market.

“Their impressive growth to date demonstrates Heidi’s ability to delight consumers with its truly flexible, best-in-class service and we’re excited to partner with them to reach many more mountain lovers in the UK and beyond.”

Due diligence providers for Mercia were PKF Francis Clark (financial), Data Shigoto (data), Ten Tenths Consulting (technical) and The Continuum (management), while Philip Hare & Associates advised on VCT compliance.

Muckle provided legal advice to Mercia, while CMS advised Active Partners and Shoosmiths advised Heidi.

Cattaneo Corporate Finance and Claritas Tax also advised Heidi.

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