Our £7m investment into the leading small group cultural adventures travel brand

We are delighted to have invested £7m into Rabbie’s, the UK’s leading small group UK cultural adventures travel brand, taking groups of travellers on one-day and multi-day mini-coach tours across the UK and Europe.

Founded in 1993 by Robin Worsnop, Rabbie’s began with him taking small groups of travellers around Scotland in his first 16-seater mini-coach. Today, it has almost 100 luxury vehicles operating small group tours across the UK, alongside exclusive partnerships in Ireland and Europe.

Sales grew to £17m in 2019, with 80% of revenue currently from trips in Scotland, discovering the famous isles, lochs, castles and whisky distilleries. More recently, Rabbie’s has expanded into Europe with trips in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland. They have returned to growth quickly post-Covid and bookings in May and June are 36% above 2019, demonstrating people’s pent-up demand for travel.

Rabbie’s driver-guides are expert storytellers, weaving in stories and experiences that take you beyond the guidebooks. The brand is popular with intrepid travellers across all age groups, with 50% of travellers under 35. 75% of customers come from abroad, with a fast growing 25% from the UK – part of a wider trend of people seeking to discover Britain through ‘staycations’. Rabbie’s has an industry-leading client satisfaction Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 88, to a large extent due to the expertise its drivers who share a passion for local history and culture.

The business has won numerous awards, including six Scottish Tourism Thistle Awards and a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade. It is also a pioneer in sustainability, having gained Gold accreditation to the Green Tourism Business Scheme in 2013 and three Vision in Business for the Environment awards. Rabbie’s mini-coaches are better for the environment than travellers using their own cars or rental vehicles. With the ability to take customers further off the beaten track than larger coaches, the tours also help the economies of smaller out-of-reach villages and communities.

Our minority investment will see Robin stay on the board as a majority shareholder, alongside the core management team of Hazel Rickett (MD), Heather Reekie (Sales & Marketing Director) and Alec Lee (Operations Director). They will be joined by Hugo Kimber as Chairman, who was previously Executive Chairman of adventure tours brand Explore and founder of sustainability consultancy Carbon Responsible, our partners in carbon tracking across our portfolio.

The investment will help the business maintain its position as the leader in innovative off-the-beaten-track tours that support local communities in the UK and Europe, while driving brand awareness among inbound tourists and domestic travellers wishing to discover more about their own countries.

Robin Worsnop, founder of Rabbie’s, said: ‘We are thrilled to find a partner that shares our values and ambitions for Rabbie’s. Piper’s passion for brand, purpose and culture is a perfect match for the Rabbie’s team, and we look forward to making the world a better place through travel together.’

It is the first investment from our seventh fund, and second in travel following its £7m investment into multi-award-winning exclusive Mediterranean villa brand, The Thinking Traveller, in November 2020.

We are very excited to be backing the Rabbie’s team for the next stage of growth. Although the travel industry has been badly hit by Covid, our consumer insight work shows that people are more eager than ever to see new countries and experience new cultures. As a brand unrivalled in its satisfaction levels among customers (an impressive NPS of 88), Rabbie’s is exceptionally placed to benefit from this pent-up demand as we emerge from the pandemic.