The private jet charter broker had predicted profitability in 2020 before its parent entered administration earlier this month

Founder and CEO Clive Jackson says he is hoping to lead a management buyout

(Updated Feb. 21, 2020 at 10:48 EST) Financial statements filed by Alyssum Holdings and Fly Victor Ltd. in early January and obtained by Private Jet Card Comparisons anticipated the company’s tenuous future.

Auditors GrantThornton at the time wrote, “Uncertainty around the repayment or refinancing of this indicates the existence of material uncertainty, which cast significant doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

GrantThornton cited a 1.6 GBP million loan to BP Technology Ventures Limited (BP Ventures) due in October. It also pointed to a 2018 net loss of over 10 million GBP, approximately $12.5 million at exchange rates in December 2018.

Administrators for Alyssum are now collecting bids, hoping to sell Fly Victor and a sister company, RocketRoute Limited.

Fly Victor 2018 financial results

The 2020 filing showed that U.K. revenues for Victor at the end of 2018 were GBP 36.6 million, up from GPB 29.4 million in 2017, an increase of 24%.

A separate December 2018 filing of 2017 accounts showed revenue of GBP 41.5 million in 2017, a gain from GBP 29.6 million in 2016.

However, that filing includes GBP 12 million in 2017 sales from the “rest of the world.” Sales outside the UK were GBP 9 million in 2016.

Victor didn’t respond to questions about why 2018 results excluded international sales.

(Updated Feb. 21, 2020 at 10:47 EST) A spokesperson for Victor tells us, regarding sales outside the UK, “In 2017, the top parent company was Fly Victor Limited. In 2018, the top parent company was Alyssum Group Limited.”

Alyssum’s financial show revenues outside the UK increased from GBP 12 million to GBP 18.5 million from 2017 to 2018, however, it is not broken out between Victor, RocketRoute or other sales sources.

Meanwhile, 2016 accounts saw Victor sales grow from GBP 16.5 million in 2015 to GBP 29.6 million in 2016, even as losses increased by more than a half-million British Pounds.

Fly Victor Revenues and Losses by Financial Year

Financial Year Revenues
(GBP in millions)
Operating Loss/Profit (GBP in millions)
2018 (2018 filing – UK sales only) 36.6 (10.1)
2017 (2018 filing – UK sales only) 29.4 (12.0)
2017 (2017 filing – worldwide sales) 41.5 (10.6)
2016 (worldwide sales) 29.6 (6.8)
2015 (worldwide sales) 16.5 (6.2)

For 2018, cost of sales jumped from GBP 27.6 billion to GBP 34 million. Its operating deficit was narrowed from GBP 12.1 million to GBP 10.2 million.

The lower loss was helped as administrative expenses at Fly Victor dropped from GBP 13.9 million to GBP 12.8 million while employee expenses jumped from GBP 2.9 million to GBP 4.6 million. The average monthly employees during 2018, including directors, increased from 53 to 66 people.

Still, at the end of 2018, the net cumulative losses at the private jet charter broker increased from GBP 29.9 million to over GBP 40 million, slightly over $50 million based on exchange rates at the time.

Low Margins

A certified accountant who reviewed the documents noted the narrow margins between selling price, costs for flights Victor was paying, and the expense of drumming up business.

In 2018 Victor’s gross profit after the cost of paying charter operators was GBP 2.6 million. However, it was achieved on GBP 12.8 million of administrative expenses. Those expenses, he said, would likely include salaries, rent, the cost of marketing and other customer-related acquisition activities.  

Ironically, Victor’s founder and CEO Clive Jackson had tried to make the case charter broker margins were often too high.

Jackson previously said he hoped to disrupt the private jet charter market and built revenues to $100 million. In launching Victor he planned a digital model, transparent pricing, and originally, capping mark-ups.

“Customers know they’re sort of getting ripped off along the way, so they’re going through three brokers. So you have three brokers going to three operators, that’s nine quote requests from one guy. It’ll be 13 phone calls before the PA even gets the quote,” he said in one interview.

Last year, Victor became embroiled in two lawsuits filed in Florida, although one seeking $30 million in damages was recently dismissed and is being appealed.

Victor’s Jackson Confirms Management Buyout Plans

Financial reports show among its assets, Victor has amassed 175,000 registered names and over 3,000 unique booking customers.

Victor attained rankings in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. It was also on Deloitte’s UK Tech Fast 50 in 2016 and 2017. Earlier this year Victor said it ranked 380th in FT 1000 list of Europe’s fastest-growing companies.

Jackson continues to be optimistic. “Victor is unaffected and continues to trade as usual as a fully functioning going concern, with the opportunity to develop as an independent business,” he says.

He tells Private Jet Card Comparisons, “This is a demerger of the group and a change of ownership. There isn’t more to add at this stage as myself and Victor management team are in the process of a management buyout”

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