Living Bridge books in with Sykes Cottages

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A CHESHIRE leisure company which markets upmarket cottages for holiday rentals has struck a deal with a private equity firm, valuing it at more than £50m.

Sykes Holiday Cottages, based at Hoole near Chester, has undergone a management buyout backed by Living Bridge, the investment firm previously called ISIS. Financial terms were not disclosed but the deal is said to be worth around £54m.

The deal, led by KPMG’s head of corporate finance Jonathan Boyers and Pinesh Mehta, sees chairman Clive Sykes, retain a stake in the business. His wife, Lynne Teasdale, is staying on as a non-executive director. Both previously owned 40% each of the company.
 
Sykes Cottages, which has around 5,000 properties in the Lake District, Devon and Anglesey on its books has soared in popularity due to growing consumer demand for more homely holiday properties. It offers a range including log cabins and pet-friendly cottages, to homes with jacuzzis and saunas.

In the year to September 2013 Sykes boosted pre-tax profits by 60% to £3.8m on a turnover of £13.4m, up 38% on the previous year.

The investment by Living Bridge will support the business as it looks to further increase its coverage and portfolio throughout the UK and Ireland.

The Living Bridge investment was led by Daniel Smith.

Clive Sykes said: “I am delighted to welcome Living Bridge into the fold. We remain committed to providing an outstanding service to our owners whilst offering great value for money for holidaymakers. We look forward to working with Living Bridge to make Sykes Cottages even more successful over the years to come.”

Miles Hill, managing director of Sykes Cottages added: “Sykes Cottages continues to go from strength to strength and this investment from Living Bridge will help to ensure that this continues for many years to come.”

Daniel Smith of Living Bridge added: “Sykes Cottages is a fantastic UK success story, delivering a superb service to property owners and holidaymakers alike. We are very excited about working with Clive, Miles and the leadership team at Sykes to fulfil our collective ambitions.”

KPMG’s Jonathan Boyers said: “Sykes Cottages is a fantastic business with an excellent management team, and we’re delighted to have advised them on this investment by Living Bridge. With consumers now feeling like they have more disposable income to spend on holidays and travel, the leisure sector is certainly hotting up in terms of M&A activity.”

Law firm Pinsent Masons advised the shareholders of Sykes Cottages.  Manchester office head Helen Ridge and Andy Phillips led the team.

Helen Ridge said: “This deal highlights the continued appetite and potential for growth in the travel sector, this being the third transaction we have completed since the summer for online travel retailers”.
 
A team from Addleshaw Goddard led by partner Paul Medlicott advised Living Bridge.

Medlicott said: “The deal was done in a very short timeframe and follows a really busy 2014 for our private equity team at a time when there weren’t huge volumes in the market.”

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