Almost 600 jobs saved as theme park sold out of administration

The Splash Canyon ride at Drayton Manor

Almost 600 jobs have been saved following a deal which has seen Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire sold out of administration to a European operator.

The group operated Drayton Manor Theme Park, home of Thomas Land, along with various retail and catering outlets as well as a hotel.

Looping Parks UK, which already owns West Midlands Safari Park, is part of a European group with 15 sites in seven countries.

PwC were appointed as joint administrators of Drayton Manor Park Limited, Drayton Manor Park (Catering) Limited and Drayton Manor Park Hotels, and have now sold the business to Drayton Manor Resort Limited, which is wholly owned by Looping Parks UK.

The transaction includes all of the business and assets of the group, with 599 employees transferring across to the new business and the existing management team staying in place.

Since its opening in 1950, Drayton Manor in Tamworth has built up a strong local heritage and annually attracts over a million visitors.

Laurent Bruloy, chief executive of the Looping Group, said: “I would like to commend the Bryan family who has, over three generations, been developing the park and made it one of the most beautiful references of our industry in the UK. We are deeply respectful about all that has been achieved by the teams.

“We aim to continue the story and support Drayton Manor’s development with the same entrepreneurial DNA and values that we share whilst keeping the strong local anchorage of the resort.”

All trading aspects of the group remain in operation as usual, with existing bookings being honoured.

Mike Denny, joint administrator and PwC director, said: “The group had been facing exceptionally challenging trading conditions. In February, Storm Dennis forced the Park to close unexpectedly, whilst its planned reopening in March was delayed due to Covid-19. These factors combined exacerbated cash flow pressures on the group.”

William Bryan, managing director at Drayton Manor Park, added:
“Like many businesses, we have faced challenges over recent months, but the sale to the Looping Group is an exciting and positive new chapter for Drayton Manor Park.

“For us, finding a buyer who would protect jobs was key, as was finding one who would continue to operate and develop the Drayton Manor Park our guests know and love.

“Looping Group’s commitment towards a very ambitious investment plan and its pledge to reinvest profits primarily back into the park, made it a natural and very appealing fit for us.

“The Bryan family was always committed to making the park one of the UK’s leading attractions and, under the Looping Group, we look forward to develop the family-friendly offering for many years to come.”