UK investor Duke Street buys German river cruise operator A-ROSA

 Duke Street, the London based mid-market private equity group, has agreed to acquire A-ROSA, the German upmarket river cruise operator, from Waterland Private Equity, a German company. The consideration has not been disclosed, the buyer said in a statement.

A-ROSA is a market leader in the premium segment for river cruises on Europe’s Danube, Rhine/Main/Moselle, Rhône/Saône and Seine rivers. The company was established in 2001 as a subsidiary of P&O Princess Cruises and was originally developed as the river cruise complement to AIDA ocean cruises. Based in the northern German city of Rostock and in Chur, Switzerland, A-ROSA has approximately 600 employees and operates a fleet of 11 high quality vessels. More than 85,000 passengers travelled on board A-ROSA cruises in 2017.

The company has, to date, enjoyed a very strong following in its German home market, as well as growing positions in other consumer markets, including the UK. Benefitting from a growing base of affluent older consumers, the river cruise segment performed strongly in the last economic downturn. The A-ROSA brand is highly regarded, with a modern, innovative river cruise fleet and exclusive agreements with key travel agencies. The high quality of on-board food and drink, cabin design and entertainment has encouraged significant levels of repeat bookings. The river cruise market is expected to benefit further from product development, loyalty-based marketing and a reduction in the average age of cruise holidaymakers.

Commenting on the A-ROSA investment, Charlie Troup, Duke Street Managing Partner, said: “We have identified in A-ROSA an exciting opportunity to back the leader in a growing segment of the European leisure market. The management team, led by CEO Jörg Eichler and COO Markus Zoepke, has built a strong consumer proposition for seasoned cruise passengers and new cruisers alike. Waterland has helped the team since 2009 to develop an excellent platform for further growth and we are delighted to be part of the next phase of A-ROSA’s success.”

Jörg Eichler, CEO of A-ROSA, added: “Duke Street moved very quickly in building a solid understanding of our business in a short space of time and have shown real determination to deliver a transaction that allows us to unlock the growth potential to take A-ROSA to the next level. We look forward to working together with the Duke Street team to develop and grow our business over the next years.”

Given the very strong ongoing consumer demand for the company’s offering, the opportunity exists for Duke Street both to expand A-ROSA’s fleet size and launch its product onto new rivers, while increasing its exposure to source markets outside Germany. Growing awareness of the convenience of visiting iconic European cities from a relaxed floating base is expected to sustain growth in the river cruise market and A-ROSA’s penetration of further key consumer economies on the continent. The transaction is subject to approval by antitrust authorities.


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