Online travel agent VCH picks Stockton as destination for growth
An ambitious online travel agency is choosing Teesside as its
destination for growth after securing a six-figure investment from
the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
VCH Travel uses a bespoke 'destinationless' search system
developed in-house which processes millions of pieces of data in
just a few seconds to offer customers holiday options that are
tailored precisely to their specifications.
The eight year-old firm is set to open its new digital headquarters
in Stockton as part of the next stage of its development, and will
also shortly be launching a new version of its search software
designed specifically for use on mobile devices.
A £250,000 investment from NPIF - FW Capital Debt Finance,
managed by FW Capital, was secured for VCH by RMT Accountants &
The investment is supporting VCH's expansion plans and its
continuing recruitment of skilled staff who are servicing growing
customer demand and systems management needs.
Five new jobs have already been created this year, taking the
VCH workforce past 40, and a further five are set to follow in the
next few months.
The VCH management team was advised by Michael Cantwell, head of
corporate finance at RMT, and Alex Wilby, partner at Swinburne
Maddison LLP during the investment process.
Founded in 2010 by Martin Jones and Nick Jackson, VCH Travel has
grown steadily by focusing primarily on providing beach holidays
around Europe and the Middle East via its www.verycheapholidays.co.uk
website and team on telephone advisors.
Martin Jones, who has two decades' experience in the
travel and technology industries, says: “We're one of only
two UK travel agents that can offer this type of advanced search
technology and it will be the basis on which we work towards
becoming one of the top firms in this sector in the next three
"We spent four years developing our systems in house to enable
it to process a huge amount of data extremely quickly and know it
provides exactly the sort of holiday options that our customers are
"We have a proven business model in place that is perfectly
suited to scaling up as customer demand grows, and moving to new
premises in Stockton will give us the base we need to expand and
create more North East jobs.
"RMT understood what we wanted the business to achieve and
recommended FW Capital as a good option for sourcing the
development capital we were looking for.
"We found the FW investment team were very good to work with,
quickly buying into the concept and seeing the opportunities in how
we now want to take it forward. The support we received
throughout from RMT and Swinburne Maddison was second to none."
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen adds: “I’m
always happy to welcome growing, innovative businesses to the
region and VCH fits that bill perfectly.
“The digital tech used by the company is very exciting and lets
them offer something different, which will help them flourish as an
asset to the area. I can’t wait to hear of more success
stories from VCH and wish them a long and prosperous future.”
Michael Cantwell, head of corporate finance at RMT
Accountants, says: "VCH has taken a proactive approach to
developing proprietary systems which enhance its customer
conversion rates and hence will drive its future progress.
"They have ambitious plans for expansion which are now being
enacted and we're very pleased to be working with them as the
business continues to evolve."
Rachael Guest, investment executive at FW Capital,
adds: “The VCH management team presented a clear view of
how they plan to grow the business over the next few years and just
how far they believe they can take it.
"Opening the new Stockton office and offering a mobile-friendly
search facility will be major steps forward for VCH and we're
looking forward to seeing how things progress from here."
Alex Wilby, partner at Swinburne Maddison LLP,
says: "It has been a pleasure working alongside Martin and
Nick at VCH and helping them secure the investment which can push
their already highly successful business forward. I look
forward to continuing to work with the team at VCH and seeing the
business go from strength to strength.
Operating from the British Business Bank’s Sheffield head
office, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund provides a mix of
debt and equity funding (£25,000 to £2m). It works alongside
ten Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the combined authorities
and Growth Hubs, as well as local accountants, fund managers and
banks, to support Northern-based SMEs at all stages of their
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported
financially by the European Union using funding from the European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural
and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European
For more information about Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund,
please visit www.npif.co.uk.