Butlin’s Vacation Camp Chain To Go On Sale As Stays Explode

Butlin’s Vacation Camp Chain To Go On Sale As Stays Explode

The owner of Butlin’s is set to put it up for sale amid a boom in UK stays, sparking a potential auction spree for the country’s best-known holiday camp chain.

Sky News has learned that Bourne Leisure, which also owns Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels, recently selected investment bankers to host a Butlin’s auction next year.

The move comes less than 12 months since private company Bourne Leisure sold a controlling stake to private equity giant Blackstone in a deal valuing the group at around £ 3 billion.

Butlin’s likely valuation at a sale was unclear over the weekend, but bankers and private investors said there would be a “deluge” of interest in acquiring the brand and of its three sites.

The chain was started in 1936 by Billy Butlin, who – according to his official story – “took pity on families staying in dingy guesthouses with little to do” on a trip to Barry Island.

He acquired land in Skegness, Lincolnshire, and opened the first eponymous complex, one of three still on the market today.

At its peak, Butlin’s operated from nine locations across the UK, entertaining a million holidaymakers each year with gnarled knee competitions and glamorous granny contests.

Hundreds of employees at its stations became known as Redcoats.

The brand has become such an ingrained element in British popular consciousness that it has inspired the long-running BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!

His fortunes have declined with the explosive growth in opportunities for Britons to vacation abroad, but has seen some resurgence in recent times.

The other sites of Butlin are today in Minehead in Somerset and Bognor Regis, the traditional seaside town close to the South Downs National Park.

The pandemic has triggered rapid growth in the number of stays, paving the way for a series of agreements in the sector.

Earlier this month, Sun Communities, a New York-listed real estate investment trust, paid £ 950million to Park Holidays, far exceeding its owners’ initial price expectations.

The Canadian owner of Parkdean Resorts, a bigger rival to Park Holidays by number of locations, has asked Morgan Stanley bankers to prepare a review of options that most observers believe should end in a sale next year .

Butlin’s likely valuation in a sale was unclear over the weekend, but bankers and private investors said there would be “a deluge” of interest

Other recent deals in the industry include private equity firm CVC Capital Partners buying Away Resorts – the owner of well-known holiday parks such as Whitecliff Bay on the Isle of Wight and Sandy Balls in the New Forest.

CVC then combined Away Resorts with Aria, another operator.

Bourne Leisure, which is headed by chief executive Paul Flaum, reportedly decided that Butlin’s was a subscale and therefore not essential to its growth plans.

Rothschild was reportedly retained by Blackstone and Bourne to oversee the sale of Butlin.

Other big players in the industry should explore offers for Butlin’s, although it may end up being sold on its own to a financial buyer.

Blackstone declined to comment on Saturday.


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