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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Butlin’s Reacquired by Founding Family in £300M Agreement

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The billionaire family, previously known for owning Butlin’s for over two decades, has repurchased the iconic British holiday resorts from its recent private equity owners at a cost of £300 million. Last year, Blackstone had acquired Bourne Leisure, the overarching tourism group, at a price tag of £3 billion. Now, the Butlin’s segment has been separated, its real estate assets liquidated, and the business reverted to the family led by Bourne’s co-founder, Peter Harris.

Boasting three major resorts located in Skegness, Minehead, and Bognor Regis, Butlin’s draws an impressive 1.5 million visitors annually. Since its inception by Sir Billy Butlin in 1936, it has been a symbol of quintessential budgeted British seaside vacations, complete with quirky contests and their signature ‘Redcoats’. Presently, while it continues to offer affordable holiday packages, it’s also ventured into more luxurious offerings like chalet villages and high-end hotels.

Expressing his family’s sentiments, Paul Harris, Peter’s son, remarked, “Reacquiring Butlin’s reflects our enduring admiration for the brand and we’re thrilled to own it once more.”

Worth noting, the Harris lineage has been listed with a £1.6 billion fortune in the recent Sunday Times Rich List. Peter Harris and his partners initiated their enterprise with a caravan park in 1964. Their business, Bourne Leisure, later expanded to include Haven caravan parks and Warner Leisure hotels, attracting a whopping 4.5 million guests in the past year.

Sharing his vision for the future, Paul Harris stated, “Together with the Butlin’s leadership, we aim to enhance our strategies and investments, ensuring even superior holiday experiences for our guests.”

Although the brand has benefited from its nostalgic image, thanks in part to the popular ‘Hi-De-Hi!’ TV series from the 1980s, it has also faced challenges related to its dated reputation. The pandemic impacted business, but a resurgence came as UK households chose local holidays over foreign trips.

Sources indicate that significant investments are imminent for the brand, especially in updating the entertainment hubs at each resort, which could be both costly and potentially disruptive.

In a separate transaction in July, Blackstone sold Butlin’s real estate assets for £300 million to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Commenting on the sale, Lionel Assant from Blackstone said the funds would be channeled into further developing Haven and Warner. He added, “With the burgeoning staycation trend, Butlin’s is poised for continued success.”

Various investors like Bain Capital and Epiris had shown interest in acquiring the brand as per Sky News. Notably, the families of Peter Harris’s initial partners did not participate in the recent Butlin’s acquisition.

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