LDC supports holiday company with multi-million acquisition

THE Birmingham office of mid-market private equity house LDC, has backed one of its previous businesses in a major acquisition.

Away Resorts received backing from LDC in April 2015. The firm has now completed the acquisition of Sandy Balls Holiday Village in the New Forest, forming a group with six sites valued in excess of £100m.

The deal was supported by additional capital from LDC, and marks a significant step in the strategy of identifying and delivering high quality sites to complement Away Resorts’ existing portfolio and increase its share of the UK holiday market.

Last year was a record year for Away Resorts as overall bookings across its parks rose significantly against 2015’s figures. This comes as the number of people taking a holiday in the UK increased from 64% to 71%, with domestic holidays proving more popular than a trip overseas.   

Richard Whitwell, Investment Director at LDC, said: “Amidst a booming ‘staycation’ market in the UK, the acquisition of Sandy Balls is a real milestone moment for Away Resorts. The site benefits from an enviable position as the largest holiday village in the New Forest, which receives around 20 million visitors a year. Its close proximity to London will help the business reach a wider range of holidaymakers looking for a break closer to home.
“We’ve been working closely with Carl (Castledine – Away Resorts CEO) and his team over the last two years, supporting the business’ ambitious plans to grow both organically and through a targeted buy and build approach, which has already seen it successfully integrate Mersea Island into the portfolio. The business is now well placed to offer a holiday experience for all tastes and budgets across its group of parks, and we look forward to helping the business further develop the Sandy Balls proposition.”  

Away Resorts has been supported with new debt facilities provided by Permira Debt Managers (Dan Hatcher and Tom Boden). LDC was advised by Freeths (Lee Clifford) and Clearwater International (Chris Smith and Gareth Iley). Financial Due Diligence was undertaken by PwC (Helen Ward), with Commercial Due Diligence completed by CiL (Alex Marshall).  
Sandy Balls is a five-star holiday village in the New Forest National Park, between Godshill and Fordingbridge, and offers accommodation including luxury woodland lodges, static holiday homes, camping pods and safari tents as well as fully serviced touring pitches.
The purchase of Sandy Balls is the second acquisition Away Resorts has made since LDC backed the secondary buyout of the business in 2015.