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Bourne Leisure founders rejoin Butlin’s in £300m deal | UK News

The family, who together founded one of the UK’s biggest leisure empires, inked a £300million deal to regain control of Butlin’s, the holiday camps chain.

Sky News has learned that a vehicle linked to the Harris family, who helped found Bourne Leisure in the 1960s, is about to sign a transaction with Blackstone, the group’s current owner.

It was unclear if Paul Harris, the family member believed to be directing the deal, had arranged outside funding to assist.

A deal that could be finalized as early as next week would bring the total proceeds from the sale of Butlin’s to more than £600m – a significant achievement in an economy plagued by inflation and forecasts of a prolonged recession.

The Harris family’s equity bid to take over Butlin’s comes 18 months after they sold Bourne Leisure to Blackstone, the giant American private equity firm, for more than £3bn.

As part of that deal, Blackstone said at the time that the founding families, Harris, Cook and Allen, would reinvest in Bourne Leisure, although it’s unclear how big the trio’s stake is now.

An auction for the chain of three holiday camps has been underway since earlier this year, attracting interest from financial bidders including Bain Capital, Epiris, TDR Capital and Guy Hands’ Terra Firma Capital Partners.

Bourne Leisure itself has been owned by Butlin’s since 2000 when it bought the company and its sister brands Haven Holidays and Warner Hotels in a £600m deal.

Last month, the UK’s largest private pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), confirmed a Sky News report that this was the case Purchase of Butlin’s underlying property assets for £300m.

The sale of the operational business is notable for the number of failed auctions triggered by turmoil in global debt financing markets.

Deals struck included auctions of Parkdean Resorts, another major leisure group, and Boots, Britain’s largest high street pharmacy.

Numerous other sales processes have been postponed as companies grapple with one of the toughest operating environments in decades.

Founded in 1936 by its eponymous founder, Billy Butlin, Butlin’s quickly became one of the most popular holiday destinations for Britons.

According to the brand’s official story, during a trip to Barry Island, Mr Butlin “felt sorry for families who stayed in drab guest houses with not much to do”.

In its heyday, Butlin’s operated from nine locations across the UK, entertaining a million holidaymakers each year with knobby knee contests and glamorous granny contests.

The brand became so ingrained in the British consciousness that it provided the inspiration for Hi-de-Hi!, the long-running BBC sitcom.

His fortune dwindled with the explosive growth in opportunities for Brits to holiday abroad, but has seen a resurgence as the pandemic has fueled a boom in domestic holidays.

Butlin’s sites are in Skegness, Minehead in Somerset and Bognor Regis, the traditional seaside town close to the South Downs National Park.

Investment bank Rothschild is advising Blackstone on the sale of Butlin.

Blackstone declined to comment Saturday, while the Harris family could not be reached for comment.

Bourne Leisure founders rejoin Butlin’s in £300m deal | UK News

Source link Bourne Leisure founders rejoin Butlin’s in £300m deal | UK News

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