LDC portfolio company Away Resorts acquires Cosways Holiday Park

Leading holiday park owner and operator Away Resorts has completed the acquisition of Cosways Holiday Park in Mersea Island.

Away Resorts is a unique operator of holiday parks, providing a range of high quality accommodation choices from luxury holiday lodges and cottages with private hot tubs to camping facilities.

Mid-market private equity investor LDC backed the secondary buyout of Away Resorts in April 2015, and the purchase of Cosways for an undisclosed sum is part of its support for the business’ strategy to identify high quality acquisitions to complement its portfolio and grow its share of the UK market.

A vibrant family park in a popular tourist location in Essex, Away Resorts has renamed the site to reflect its location, and it will now be known as Mersea Island Holiday Park. An extensive investment programme is currently underway to improve and expand the park’s facilities, including the installation of new caravan pitches, a roof to cover the outdoor pool so it can be used all year round and extending the park’s catering services and bar area.

It is the fifth park in the group’s portfolio, joining Tattershall Lakes (Lincolnshire), Whitecliff Bay (Isle of Wight), Mill Rythe (Hampshire) and Barmouth Bay (Gwynedd).

As part of Away Resorts’ long-term plan to invest in the development of all its holiday parks, a three-year, £12m improvement plan is now being implemented at Tattershall Lakes. The new development plan includes further new caravan holiday home pitches and a large expansion of the Boathouse Bar which will be renamed The Spitfire Bar & Diner and will expand its capacity to seat 480 people.

In addition, new facilities including adventure golf, an indoor activity marquee, a toddlers play area, an outdoor wet play with slide and a terraced seating area by the beach will be introduced to enhance the facilities for holidaymakers of all ages.

A £4m investment is also underway at Whitecliff Bay, which includes the modernisation of its chalet accommodation and the introduction of additional caravan holiday home pitches as well as new facilities including a weather resilient children’s play area.

The acquisition and site expansions have all been backed by additional capital from LDC and debt facilities from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Away Resorts is based in Hemel Hempstead and employs 370 full-time and seasonal staff across its portfolio. It has successfully grown sales to more than £25m, and holiday bookings reached record levels in 2015, up by nine per cent on 2014’s figures. The business is actively pursuing further acquisition opportunities with the support of LDC. 

Carl Castledine, managing director at Away Resorts, said: “We are proud of the premium British holiday experience we offer our guests, and it became clear that Cosways would make a high quality addition to our portfolio. Its lively family environment provides a solid platform for expansion, and we are excited to unveil new facilities for generations of holidaymakers to enjoy.

“As our holiday park development projects continue, we will be working closely with LDC to build on this successful start to our partnership and identify new avenues of growth throughout 2016 and beyond.”

Richard Whitwell, investment director at LDC, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the continued development of Tattershall Lakes and Whitecliff Bay as well as the first acquisition that Away Resorts has made since we backed the business last year. We will continue to support the business’ ambitious organic and acquisition led growth strategies as it looks to capitalise on the growing trend to holiday in the UK and increase its share of a fragmented market.”