River Thames sightseeing operator City Cruises has expanded with the acquisition of York River Boat Cruises (YorkBoat) from Chester Boat Company for £2.5m.
The acquisition adds to City Cruises’ existing portfolio that includes its main London River Thames operation, and City Cruises Poole, based in Dorset. The enlarged company will now operate 25 boats offering a wider choice of river cruise products for tour operators, group travel organisers and travel agents.
General manager of York River Boat Cruises, Jo Dykes, who has been with the company for more than 20 years, will remain in position and oversee the company’s transition to become City Cruises York.
Kyle Haughton, managing director of City Cruises, says: “Our objective is to grow the business beyond London and the new acquisition is a step towards achieving this. There are significant opportunities to work with the trade in York and the success we’ve had packaging attractions with cruises is something we want to develop there too.”
Brian Clarke, owner and managing director of Chester Boat Company, says: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity over the last ten years using my wealth of experience to develop the business. It is with great pleasure that it can now be passed on to a larger operator that can take this business to its next level.”
The expansion adds to City Cruises’ recent successes that has seen overall revenues for 2016/2017 increase by 6% year-on-year. Contributing factors include a new private hire service that delivered 168 private hires in 2016-17, generating a 17% increase in revenue. Revenue from Showboat sailings on the Thames increased 16% with revenue from afternoon tea cruises increasing by 10%. Increasing the frequency of the popular ‘Jazz Cruise’ to every Friday delivered a revenue increase of 117%. At the same time, a major £2.4m refurbishment of the City Alpha on the Thames and the launch of a third ThamesJet boat has brought an improved London product.
City Cruises York will continue to operate sightseeing cruises from the two existing boarding points along the River Ouse: King’s Staith and Lendal Bridge. The company says the product will be developed to offer a similar schedule to London. The new cruising options will include the early evening Sundowner as well as Lunch and Dinner Cruises. York will also operate the ‘Sail with Santa Cruise’ and ‘Christmas Night Cruises’ throughout the festive season.
For more information, go to www.yorkboat.co.uk