Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has advised its longstanding client Piper Private Equity, the UK's leading specialist investor in consumer brands, on its £7m investment into specialist villa brand The Thinking Traveller.

Founded in 2002, The Thinking Traveller began with seven villas in Sicily and today has 220 highly curated properties, including some of the most sought-after villas in the Mediterranean. The business, which reported a sales growth to £20m in 2019, has been voted Best Villa Rental Company for the last five consecutive years by the readers of CN Traveller magazine.

Piper's investment will help the business curate a broader selection of exclusive villas in new destinations around the Mediterranean through strategic acquisitions and partnerships and expand the brand further in its core markets including the UK, Europe, the US and Australia. This transaction represents the ninth investment from Piper's latest £123m fund.

The WBD team advising on the transaction was led by corporate partner Simon Hewes, managing associate Sammy Hill, and solicitor Joanna Norris, assisted by a wider team of specialist lawyers. The team has a strong track record acting for Piper on many of its investments including into Pet Food UK , Flat Iron Restaurants, Mindful Chef and Neom Organics. Most recently, the firm advised Piper, the shareholders of the UK's most established maker of natural pet food Forthglade, on the sale of the business to European private equity group IK Investment Partners, and advised Piper in connection with the sale of Mindful Chef to Nestle. 

Simon Hewes commented:

"It is always a pleasure working with the team at Piper, who have a deep passion for growing young consumer brands into highly successful mature businesses. We're thrilled to have advised them on this exciting new investment into The Thinking Traveller. Despite the challenging operating environment we find ourselves in, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, our focus in the Retail and Consumer sector coupled with our strong corporate credentials and understanding of the client, meant we were able to secure the best possible outcome and a smooth completion for Piper."

Dan Stern, Piper's Investment Director, who led the deal, added:

"We are very excited to be backing The Thinking Traveller 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 that is unrivalled in its satisfaction levels among both clients and villas owners, The Thinking Traveller is exceptionally placed to benefit from this pent-up demand as we emerge from the pandemic. Once again we extend our thanks to the WBD team for their ongoing first rate legal expertise and we look forward to working with them as we continue to expand our investment portfolio."

Ranking in the UK's top 20 law firms, WBD provides legal expertise in its key sectors, including Retail and Consumer, from across eight offices in the UK and 19 offices in the US. The firm has a large corporate practice in the UK advising national and international clients on a broad range of corporate transactions, particularly M&A, IPOs, private equity investments as well as growth and development capital fundraisings.