Ambitious holiday cottage firm swoops for rival business

Sykes Holiday Cottages

Chester-based Sykes Holiday Cottages has agreed a deal to acquire Pure Cottages Group from private equity investor LDC for an undisclosed sum.

The Pure Cottages Group is a collection of five luxury holiday rental agencies, created following LDC’s investment in Lakelovers in December 2017.

In 2017, Lakelovers managed 500 holiday properties in the Lake District.

Today, Pure Cottages Group manages more than 1,500 holiday homes throughout Cumbria, Cornwall and the Cotswolds, having acquired Heart of the Lakes, Lake District Lodge Holidays, Character Cottages, John Bray Cornish Holidays and regional cleaning business, Maid in the Cotswolds, during its partnership with LDC.

The brands within the Pure Cottages Group will join Sykes’ existing collection of regional brands, which includes Cornish Cottage Holidays, Helpful Holidays and Menai Holidays.

The move follows Sykes’ investment in New Zealand operator Bachcare in April and supports the fast-growing firm’s plans for further UK and international expansion.

Sykes has enjoyed a record year in 2019 with bookings up 26 per cent year-on-year and sales and profits rising to £68 million and £20 million, respectively.

It currently employs more than 600 people across 16 UK offices and has taken 1.6 million travellers on holiday in 2019.

In October it was announced that Sykes Holiday Cottages had secured backing from private equity firm Vitruvian Partners to fund its plans for national and international expansion.

The deal saw Vitruvian invest an undisclosed sum for a majority stake in Sykes, replacing the existing backers Livingbridge.

Graham Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: “The Pure Cottages Group is well established in some of the UK’s most popular holiday hotspots, so the deal bolsters our range of premium holiday homes in Cumbria, Cornwall and the Cotswolds.

“With the team at Pure Cottages on board, we’re able to give our customers even greater choice alongside local expertise. By continuing to invest in the business and grow our family of brands, we’re also supporting the long-term success of each holiday let for its owner.”

Aziz Ul-Haq, director at LDC in Manchester, said: “When we partnered with Pure Cottages Group in 2017 it was already the Lake District’s top provider of premium holiday rentals.

“Considering the firm’s scalable proposition, commitment to customer service and success in a competitive local market mean, we knew it was well positioned to thrive across the UK.

“Working in partnership with the team to achieve this ambition has been extremely rewarding. As the business has grown, Paul and the team have retained the focus on quality that its customers know and trust. We wish them the best of luck with the next stage of their journey as a part of Sykes Holiday Cottages.”

Paul Liddell, founder and chief executive of Pure Cottages Group, added: “LDC’s investment and support gave us the confidence, expertise and financial firepower to pursue an ambitious acquisitive growth strategy.

“We added complementary property rental providers to our roster incrementally, delivering a sustainable programme of expansion that limited risk and encouraged growth. We’re now on an even stronger footing as we begin the next stage of our growth journey with Sykes Holiday Cottages.”

LDC has a strong portfolio of travel and leisure businesses and has invested more than £275 million to support a number of high-profile brands, such as the award-winning outdoor adventure business Zip World and holiday park operator Away Resorts.

Sykes Holiday Cottages was advised by Springboard Corporate Finance and Hill Dickinson.

LDC and shareholders of Pure Cottages Group were advised by KPMG (Corporate Finance and Transaction Services) and DLA.

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