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Butlin Owner Prepares To Auction Legendary Vacation Camp Chain | Travel & Leisure

Butlin’s is set to be sold next year, potentially sparking a bidding war for the famous holiday camp brand that recently capitalized on the trend of pandemic-induced stays.

Bourne Leisure, the parent company of Butlin which owns brands such as Warner Leisure Hotels and Haven Holidays, is itself majority owned by US private equity giant Blackstone, and is said to have previously selected investment bankers to lead a sale. up for auction next year.

News of the move comes as the travel industry reacts to the impact of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant, which could trigger a new wave of UK holiday demand that does not involve PCR testing costly, paperwork and a potential requirement to self-isolate upon return from abroad.

Butlin’s was started 85 years ago by Billy Butlin, who had visited Barry Island in Wales and ‘felt sorry for families staying in drab guesthouses with little to do’ .

Butlin established his first park in Skegness, Lincolnshire, in 1936 with the aim of creating a new kind of seaside holiday, which would offer a range of activities and entertainment. This complex is still marketed today, with two more in Bognor Regis in West Sussex and Minehead in Somerset. At one point there were nine camps, seven hotels and even Ra Butlin’s in the Bahamas. A camp on Barry Island opened in 1966 but closed 30 years later.

For decades, Butlin’s was famous – or notorious – for contests aimed at finding the vacationer with the knottiest knees or the most glamorous grandmothers. He struggled with a low-end image and was taunted a lot in the media.

However, in recent years it has tried to position itself as a rival to Center Parcs, with millions of pounds invested in new features such as water complexes and upgraded accommodation, as well as new markets such as weekends. -end live music for the fans. and a greater push in conferences and events.

The decision to consider selling Butlin’s comes less than a year after Blackstone acquired a controlling stake in Bourne Leisure for around £ 3 billion.

Bourne Leisure and Blackstone are believed to have concluded that Butlin’s is “non-essential” for their future goals. Some analysts had predicted the move for some time.

Bourne Leisure’s accounts for 2020 show the business collapsed to a pre-tax loss of £ 151million, compared to a profit of £ 145million in 2019. The outbreak of 19 took over the UK economy, primarily through the short-term closures of some of our sites. “

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All three stations reopened in May this year, and Butlin’s recently announced that its summer 2022 lineup will include the dance group Diversity.

The company’s accounts also indicated that during 2020 it reimbursed site fees to its owners during closings and offered its vacationers cash refunds for any canceled stays.

It is believed that the Rothschild investment bank was retained by Bourne Leisure and Blackstone to oversee the sale of Butlin, which could prompt offers from competitors in the leisure sector.

Bourne Leisure and Blackstone both declined to comment.

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