Major changes at top of Aotearoa’s short-stay platforms

Sykes Holiday Cottages, the owner of Bachcare and one of Europe’s biggest short-let rental agencies, has sold for an eye-watering $750 million.

The company has been snapped up by private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, taking over as majority stakeholder from another private equity operator, Livingbridge, which paid a relatively modest $108 million for the highly successful platform just four years ago .

Sykes, which lists 17,500 holiday homes in the UK, Ireland and Aotearoa, bought a majority stake in Bachcare in April as a foothold in the southern hemisphere market. The Kiwi rental platform founded by Leslie Preston in 2003 manages over 2,000 New Zealand properties in more than 150 locations.

At the time, Graham Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: “It has always been our ambition to scale into new markets and, working together with Bachcare will enable us to take our first step towards further international growth.

“There are huge synergies between our business and the one that Leslie has built over the past 16 years.”

Preston remained as CEO following the sale.

Sykes employs around 500 people and last year served more than 1.5 million holidaymakers, growing bookings and new owner enquiries by a third and generating sales of $137 million. It boasts almost 80 percent direct bookings, having built most of its technology in-house.

Bachcare employs around 50 people at its head office near Auckland and works with around 100 contracted holiday managers across the North and South Island.

New faces

Airbnb, the biggest short-stay operator of them all, has checked in a new antipodean leadership team.

Former Google executive Susan Wheeldon has joined Airbnb as its new Australia and New Zealand manager ahead of next year’s public float.

Ms Wheeldon served in a number of roles during four years at Google, including head of government and head of agency, and replaces Sam McDonagh following his departure to New York sponsorship marketplace company WeAre8.

“As an avid traveller and longtime admirer of Airbnb, I’m delighted to be joining a company whose mission of belonging anywhere has clearly been embraced by Aussies and Kiwis in a way not seen anywhere else in the world,’’ she said.

Derek Nolan has also recently been anointed Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, replacing Brent Thomas who is now the home share giant’s regional policy director for Asia Pacific.

Formerly at hospitality workers’ trade union United Voice and an MP in the Irish parliament, Nolan will be responsible for Airbnb’s relationship with governments and ‘‘crafting partnerships that deliver clear, fair and progressive rules for home sharing’’.


Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions:

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