RedBalloon parent buys Lime&Tonic to accelerate experience ambitions

Big Red Group buys wine, food and dining experience marketplace as part of plans to serve Australians an experience every second

RedBalloon parent company, Big Red Group, has continued its acquisitions spree by picking up Australia’s Lime&Tonic for an undisclosed sum.

Lime&Tonic is another experience marketplace with an emphasis on social food and wine activities including masterclasses and workshops, dining experiences, wine tastings and chef’s table events. The business will now sit alongside BRG’s longstanding RedBalloon business, as well as recently debuted charity-oriented experiences offering, IfOnly, and extreme experiences provider, Adrenaline, in November last year.

BRG co-founder, Naomi Simson, said the group’s vision is to serve up an experience to Australians every second by 2025. It’s currently serving one every 49 seconds. The latest company purchase is a further step forward towards the long-term goal.

“Gourmet dining and pamper experiences is what Lime&Tonic is known for, and we know from our other brands that these are two of the fastest growing segments in the experience economy,” she said. “The Lime&Tonic brand will allow the group to serve customers a broader range of experiences, curated on behalf of our customers.

“Lime&Tonic adds a wonderful dimension to complement the range of experiences we offer today.”

BRG co-founder, David Anderson, also described the deal as key in the group’s multi-brand strategy to service distinct customer needs in different parts of the experience economy.The Lime&Tonic deal includes brand and consumer business but no staff. The vendor will also continue to run a bespoke Lime&Tonic corporate hospitality offering.

“We have a big vision for the next five years, both domestically and globally, and we’re excited to support Australian businesses along the way,” he said.

As well as its front-facing brand expansion, BRG has been building its back-end capabilities to improve onsite delivery and lower cost of customer acquisition for the brands selling experiences through its offerings. The work has included investment into artificial intelligence (AI) platform, Albert, aimed at better serving up the right experiences to customers online in real time. Off the back of this, BRG launched Marketics as a B2B distributor for Albert in Australia.

BRG was launched in 2017 as the new overarching parent company of RedBalloon, signalling Simson’s return to day-to-day leadership of the group alongside new investor, Anderson. Combined, the group represents 7000 experiences across Australia and New Zealand and 2000 partners and is on track to deliver 600,000 experiences in the 2020 financial year.

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