Northern VCTs

Online ski operator on the upward slope after raising £5.6m

Heidi – a fast-growing online tour operator specialising in flexible ski holidays – has raised £5.6m in a funding round led by Mercia Ventures with participation from Active Partners and private investors.

Heidi’s technology allows customers complete flexibility to create their own bespoke package. They can choose from over 6,000 accommodation options in over 400 resorts, select the date of departure and length of stay and sort by features such as quantity of snow or proximity to slope. Customers can also book group holidays that allow members to fly from different locations, and extras such as lift passes and ski hire.

The funding will enable the Bristol-based company to further enhance its platform, expand its customer service teams and create over 20 jobs in the year ahead.

Heidi was founded in 2018 by brothers Marcus and Alexander Blunt, keen skiers who had both spent a decade working in the travel industry. With most operators only offering Saturday departures, they spotted a gap in the market for an online operator that could offer greater flexibility and raised money from family and friends to launch the platform.

The business, which currently employs 44 staff, is now growing rapidly, with revenue having quadrupled in the past two years – from £8.8m in the year to April 2022 to £37m in 2024. Heidi is now 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.

As part of the deal, Mercia has introduced Sarah Doyle, who has held senior roles at a number of consumer brands, as Chair, along with Miles Hill and Michael Rivis – the former CEO and CTO of Sykes Cottages – as Non-executive Directors.

Marcus Blunt, CEO of Heidi, 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.”

The Mercia Ventures team included Jan Oosthuizen and Adam Watts. Jan Oosthuizen 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.”

Billy Fox, Early-stage Investor at Active Partners, added: “With its 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 LLP advised on VCT compliance. Muckle LLP provided legal advice to Mercia, while CMS advised Active Partners and Shoosmiths LLP advised Heidi. Cattaneo Corporate Finance and Claritas Tax also advised Heidi.