YORK holiday operator Great Rail Journeys has been acquired by a private equity firm in a deal reported to be worth £100 million.

The St Saviourgate business, which employs a team of 150 people in York, has been sold by parent company ECI to UK-based mid-market investment firm Duke Street.

While terms of the transaction have not been officially disclosed, the sale is rumoured to have been around the £100 million mark.

Great Rail Journeys (GRJ) offers almost 400 itineraries to more than 50 countries globally.

Over the last five years GRJ has performed strongly, tapping into new source markets for its rail tours including Australia and more recently the US, following the establishment of an office in New York in 2017.

The business, founded in York in 1980, has also just launched, for summer 2019, a unique rail based premium river cruise offering which builds upon very strong pre-existing demand for such holidays from within its customer database.

Duke Street plans to support the existing management team, led by Peter Liney, to develop the business’ rail and cruise offerings further, both in the UK and internationally.

Following the acquisition, Charles Gurassa will be appointed as chairman. His current non-executive board roles include chairman of Channel 4, deputy chairman of Easyjet and senior independent director at Merlin Entertainments.

Tom Salmon, partner at Duke Street, said: “Our experience of backing market leaders in growing segments of the European leisure sector makes Great Rail Journeys a very exciting investment proposition.

“It is an outstanding business. Having known Peter Liney for a number of years, we are looking forward to working with him, Charles Gurassa and the wider team to continue to grow the business.”

Mr, chief executive of Great Rail Journeys, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Duke Street. The team very quickly demonstrated a clear understanding of our business, and their experience both of growing businesses in the US and of river cruising was highly attractive to us.

“After five great years of working with ECI, who have helped us to internationalise the business, add new product lines, grow our profits and develop our management team, we are very excited to embark on the next chapter of our story.”