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Friday, October 28, 2016

FRS Acquires Clipper, Plans North American Expansion

January 21, 2016

  • Photo: Clipper
  • Merideth Tell (Photo: True North Entertainment)
  • Photo: Clipper Photo: Clipper
  • Merideth Tell (Photo: True North Entertainment) Merideth Tell (Photo: True North Entertainment)

FRS and Clipper to combine expertise to deliver new ferry services and open new hubs in Vancouver, Florida, and Cuba; company also plans to expand travel products 

FRS has acquired a majority interest in Clipper. FRS is a global ferry and shipping group, currently operating 60 vessels in 12 countries, and carrier of more than 7 million passengers and 1.9 million vehicles last year on national and international ferry lines. Clipper, operator of Clipper Vacations, is a recognized company in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, offering unique regional travel experiences, including high speed Victoria Clipper ferry services from Seattle to Victoria, and Seattle to San Juan Island. With the acquisition, Clipper will expand its Canadian service with a new hub in Vancouver connecting downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria. With Clipper’s support, FRS will launch a new ferry service from Florida to Cuba, pending government guidance and approval. 
“This is an exciting day for Clipper, as we are thrilled to join forces with another industry leader,” said Merideth Tall, founder, CEO and Chair of Clipper. “FRS is a company that shares our values and our vision for travel and tourism in North America, and has long-term experience in markets around the world. Combining with FRS will allow us to expand our travel products and services to provide many more options for our customers that will now include Vancouver and Cuba.”
Tall will continue in her role as CEO of Clipper, and will expand the Clipper team to support this growth. She will also retain minority ownership of the company. More details regarding the new hubs in Vancouver, Florida and Cuba will be revealed in the coming weeks and months ahead. Terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed.
“Clipper and its leadership team plan to leverage FRS’ long history of managing multi-country operation models as we launch our future growth plan. The expansion of operations to Vancouver and Cuba will further benefit both of our Canadian and American destination cities,” Tall said.
Both FRS and Clipper are family-owned businesses. FRS has 150 years of experience in the operation of various ferry types and has grown from a regional passenger ferry operator to an internationally active group. FRS operates ferry routes in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East
Clipper is a 30 year-old Seattle institution best known for owning and operating the Victoria Clipper ferries between Seattle, Victoria, BC and the San Juan Islands. The company is also well recognized for providing travel packages throughout Washington state, Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands, Portland, the Canadian Rockies and more. The travel packages feature quintessential experiences in the region and offer a wide range of activities, including whale watching, zip lining, wine tasting excursions and train adventures. 
“By acquiring Clipper, we are expanding our presence in the North American market, bringing with us our long history of operational acumen and connection to the European tourism market,” said Götz Becker, CEO of FRS. “Clipper has an impressive track record in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, and will now serve even more of the Canadian market with a new Vancouver service. With the support of Clipper, we are also thrilled to launch a new ferry service between Florida and Cuba.”
“When I went on a business trip with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (Wash.) to Cuba in 2002, it opened my eyes to the possibilities of a tourism industry between our two countries,” Tall said. “Together with FRS, we will continue to build our role as a major presence in the tourism industry throughout North America.”
Tom Norwalk, president of Visit Seattle, adds that this market development will be a benefit for tourists. “By expanding its offerings in partnership with FRS, Clipper is connecting travel in a way that shows our region’s visitors the best of what we have to offer. We are thrilled to see a local tourism icon like Clipper adapt and grow to meet the needs of visitors and locals alike.”

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