Asda owner eyes Butlin’s acquisition

Asda owner eyes Butlin's acquisition
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Fortress Leisure, a principal stakeholder in the retail giant Asda, has entered the race to acquire Butlin’s as the iconic holiday brand is placed on the market by Bourne Leisure.


The owner of Asda has submitted an indicative £600m offer to acquire Butlin’s, after the iconic holiday camp was placed on the market by parent company Bourne Leisure.

Fortress Leisure joins Punch Taverns owner TDR Capital in an attempt to purchase the brand, as recent record footfall boosts corporate interest in the holiday park market.

“City sources said … that other parties had bid for the business too, with bankers suggesting that another offer may have come from KSL Capital Partners, a prolific investor in UK leisure assets,” reported Sky News.

“Butlin’s is being sold by Bourne Leisure, which also trades under the Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels brands.”

The sale comes after investment firm Blackstone acquired a majority stake in Bourne in late 2020, joining founders the Harris, Cook and Allen families, in a deal valuing the group at £3bn.

Butlin’s was then placed on the market in November after Blackstone described the brand as “sub-scale and therefore noncore to its growth plans,” despite a recent surge in domestic holiday demand.

“In its heyday, Butlin’s operated from nine sites across the UK, entertaining one million holidaymakers each year with knobbly knees competitions and glamorous granny contests,” added Sky News.

“Its fortunes waned with the explosive growth of opportunities for Britons to holiday abroad, but has enjoyed a resurgence as the pandemic has fuelled a boom in staycations.”

The expressions of interest from Fortress and TDR suggest international investors are confident in the future growth of the industry, with a raft of recent deals seeing holiday parks across the country acquired by leading private equity firms.

Park Holidays was sold to Sun Communities in £900m in November, CVC Capital Partners acquired Away Resorts in June 2021, while Onex Corporation is currently fielding above-estimate bids for Parkdean Resorts.

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