ECI Partners (ECI), the UK mid-market private equity firm, has invested in CarTrawler, the Dublin-based provider of online car rental distribution systems. In addition, Mike McGearty, the former COO of CarTrawler, has been announced as the new Chief Executive who will lead the next stage of the business’s development.
Bobby Healy will continue as the company’s CTO and Niall Turley will remain Director of Supply. The funding from ECI will be used to support the continued growth of CarTrawler organically and through acquisition and Chris Watt, Director at ECI, will join the board. Richard Prosser will join the board as Chairman having formerly served as Managing Director of the Specialist and Emerging Markets division of TUI Travel Plc, the world’s leading leisure travel business.
CarTrawler uses award-winning technology to link consumers with car rental suppliers directly and through third-party websites. The business model provides a win-win-win for consumers, distribution partners and car rental suppliers. CarTrawler’s platform enables consumers to obtain real-time car rental prices and availability from over 550 car rental suppliers globally; enables distribution partners (e.g. airlines, online travel agents) to improve customer conversion and drive revenues and provides suppliers with global distribution. CarTrawler distributes car rental from 28,000 city and airport locations across 175 countries. It operates in 29 languages, providing quotes in 49 currencies.
CarTrawler was founded in 2004 by Greg and Niall Turley in Dublin, who will retain non-executive Director and executive Director roles respectively in the business and remain as significant investors.
The ECI investment will provide resources for CarTrawler to continue its aggressive expansion plans. The company currently employs 90 people, mainly based in Dublin, Ireland with an overseas office in Seattle, USA. The Seattle office is led by Mike Flory, CEO of CarTrawler Americas, formerly VP of Expedia’s North American Car Rental business. From inception, CarTrawler has delivered a consistently strong performance with an average year on year growth of 60% during the last four years.
In 2010 the total global car hire market was estimated to be worth around £33 billion. ECI expects CarTrawler to continue to increase its market share going forward, as a consequence of the continued growth in online travel, the increasing importance of ancillary revenues to travel companies, as well as tapping into fast-growing emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America where online travel bookings continue to show strong growth.
This is ECI’s third deal in three months (including investments in Reed & Mackay and Fourth Hospitality).
Chris Watt of ECI Partners says: “Greg and Niall Turley have created an exceptional business in CarTrawler. We are delighted that Greg has agreed to continue as a non-executive director of the company and we have a great management team who we are confident will take the business on to a new level. ECI is a growth investor with a track record of supporting high growth online companies expanding internationally and we look forward to helping CarTrawler continue to grow across the globe.”