Center Parcs owns six UK holiday villages across the UK and Ireland and is the go-to staycation destination for millions of Britons. Now on the market for £5billion, the popular theme park is up for grabs just eight years after its Canadian owners purchased the chain. The Brookfield private equity firm bought the group for an estimated £2.4billion back in 2015.
The holiday chain is best known for its middle-class family clientele who flock to enjoy the log cabin retreats, waterparks, and activity trails on site.
Open all year round, the popular holiday villages attract more than two million visitors a year.
According to the Financial Times, its Canadian owners, Brookfield, are seeking to raise between £4billion and £5billion from the sale.
The decision to put Center Parcs on the market comes after plans to open a seventh destination were scrapped earlier this year.
In addition to its current sites in Bedfordshire, Wiltshire, Suffolk, Nottinghamshire, Cumbria and Ireland, the owners planned to open another site in Worth Forest, West Sussex.
The owners pulled out of the opening following an outcry from wildlife campaigners who opposed the decision.
Despite not adding a seventh village, the chain has achieved a healthy asking price of more than double what it was bought for in 2015.
And while many travel businesses struggled to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic, the holiday chain was quick to, according to The Guardian.
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Sales increased four-fold to £503million in the year to April 21, 2022, helping lift profits to £66million.
This followed a staggering loss of £157million the prior year as visitors sought out holidays close to home in line with travel restrictions.
Now with a 36-year legacy behind it, Center Parcs’ owners could cash in big with the sale.
The Financial Times first reported on the sale earlier this week, detailing that advisers to Brookfield Property Partners are currently seeking potential buyers – which are expected to include other private equity firms.
Center Parcs has been operating in the UK since 1987 when its first location opened in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. The Elveden Forest site in Suffolk came in 1989 with further villages established in Longleat Forest, Whinfell Forest and Woburn Forest.
Despite being a household name among Britons, the holiday villages faced controversy in 2022 after it announced the partial closure of five out of six of its sites.
Center Parcs destinations were supposed to close from 10am on Monday, September 19, 2022, to honour the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
A quick u-turn on the decision saw a statement issued by the holiday chain which read: “We have reviewed our position regarding the very small number of guests who are not due to depart … we will be allowing them to stay on our villages rather than having to leave and return”.
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