Acquisition will see heritage trail business focus on growth
A heritage trail business which came close to closure earlier this year has been bought by a Cornwall-based businessman.
The Truro-based business, which was founded in 2005 by former Army officer Steve Ridd, devises treasure trails for different parts of the UK, working on a franchise basis.
Trails involve a series of clues which guide participants around local landmarks, historical monuments and plaques.
At its peak, the business had 40 franchisees across the UK and was bidding to expand into new areas such as trails aimed at corporate clients and education providers.
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But when the expansion didn't work out and the business found itself in trouble, the decision was taken to sell part of its assets, including the intellectual property of the trails themselves.
These were snapped up by Hayle-based Phil Allatt, owner of IT West, who had worked on the firm's IT systems when it was first launched.
"Phil Allatt worked on the original software, in the early days, and he loved the product and he sees great potential in the business. When he heard that the assets were being sold, he stepped in," said Treasure Trails' general manager Aaron Hutchens.
Since the acquisition, the business has undergone a restructure, with the previous license arrangements replaced by partnership agreements.
It now has 28 partners operating across the UK, and is trading as Treasure Trails. The firm is owned by Armstrong Best, a company set up specifically to run the new-look business,
The firm has two full-time employees and is focused on maintaining current growth levels which have seen an increase of 20% in the number of trails sold year on year at 70,000.
"The key thing is stabilising the business. We're keen to focus on what we feel works and engaging with customers," said Mr Hutchens, who said that, after getting the business back on its feet, the "dream" remained to launch international trails.
"It's great that Treasure Trails is continuing to grow – it's the love that so many people have for the product that's so nice. There's so much hi-tech stuff out there that people like to have something that has a more traditional approach which is based on childhood games and is about family values."