Updates for the travel and leisure industry
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Bourne Leisure, the UK business behind Butlin’s holiday parks, fell last year to its first pre-tax loss in more than a decade after the pandemic forced the operator to close its sites and repay customers.
In accounts filed this week, Bourne reported that sales had more than halved to £ 506.8 million in 2020, leaving a pre-tax loss of £ 151.6 million. This compares with the profit of £ 145.7 million that the group made in 2019.
The company, which also owns Haven Caravan Parks and Warner Leisure Hotels for adults only, said it had received £ 60.5 million from the UK government’s period to support its 14,000 employees. It added that it was also affected by higher borrowing and refinancing costs.
The accounts show that the group halved its annual capital expenditure and paid no dividends, as it reduced the cost of managing the outbreak of the pandemic.
Data from S&P Capital IQ show that the company has not reported a loss since at least 2004.
Domestic holiday parks have traded volatile over the past 18 months, from months to closing record weeks for bookings While UK consumers flocked to local resort destinations amid ongoing restrictions on international travel.
Bourne’s Butlin’s company told the Financial Times earlier this summer that it had experienced an increase in first-time customers in 2021. in troubled UK assets.
Bourne was acquired by US private equity giant Blackstone in a £ 3bn deal which led to the resignation of its founder Peter Harris as director, although he retained a minority stake in the business.
Harris founded the predecessor company in Bourne in 1964 after auditing a caravan park in his previous role as an accountant.
Bourne said that “loyalty of guests and repeat business supports the growth of the group in the long run” and that it repaid caravan fees and holiday deposits during the periods it was parked and closed. It added that it is expected to return to profitability again this year.
The company did not respond to a request for comment on current trading.
The sale of the Bourne to Blackstone also indicates the growing confidence of investors in the local holiday sector. In June, the private equity group CVC Capital Partners acquired a £ 250 million stake in holiday park operator Away Resorts, while KKR agreed to buy the Dutch company Roompot owned by Awaze, which operates campsites and holiday homes in Denmark, the Netherlands. Germany, Belgium, France and Spain reached an agreement of 1 billion euros last year.
Henrik Kjellberg, CEO of Awaze, said that his company started promoting his holidays in June 2022 “because we are so limited this year, we thought we would use the momentum and try to make some of the discussions to move to next year ”.