Leading holiday and short break providers Centre Parcs have announced that they are to begin construction on a fifth site at Woburn Forest within the next few months. The news has been described by Prime Minister David Cameron as a welcome boost to the British economy. In its building phase, it is expected that the project will create more than 1200 construction jobs and a total of 1500 new jobs once the site is operational in 2014.
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Centre Parcs’ owners Blackstone will manage the investment funds and support the venture with an investment fund worth more than £100 million, injecting valuable cash equity into the company. It is thought that four UK banks have also committed to the project with a loan of around £150 million – the banks are UK leaders: RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group.
“Centre Parcs is much loved by many and this new site is not only great news for holiday makers but great news for the economy too. This expansion and the jobs that it brings will be a real boost to growth and a sign of the increasing investor confidence that there is too, ” Prime Minister, David Cameron commented.
The new Centre Parcs project is thought to be one of the biggest of its kind in the UK in recent years and the expected 625 forest lodges, 75 bed hotel and spa are expected to open in spring 2014.
The leisure facility will also include 12 associated spas and two main centres; these will house indoor sports facilities, swimming pool, restaurants and retail outlets and further Centre Parcs sports and leisure amenities will also be available outdoors. The new centre joins existing Centre Parcs’ sites: Whinfell Forest (Cumbria), Sherwood Forest (Nottingham), Elveden Forest (Suffolk) and Longleat Forest (Wiltshire). Tenders for the building work are already well under way, leading many to think that construction will begin soon.
Just days ago, Centre Parcs secured a £1 billion group refinancing scheme against their existing parks.
“This bond issue replaces the previous debt structure and has secured a long-term, efficient and flexible capital structure for the company’s next stage of growth. Importantly, the refinancing of the previous structure allows Centre Parcs to commence construction of the fifth site at Woburn, ” Centre Parcs said in a statement.
“I am delighted to be moving ahead with the construction of our new site at Woburn, which will bring significant benefits for both our guests and the wider economy. This is our 25th year of operation and Centre Parcs is trading strongly, with occupancy rates of around 97% throughout 2011 and positive forward booking trends for 2012, as guests continue to respond positively to the high quality holiday experience we offer, ” Centre Parcs’ Chief Executive Martin Dalby went on to explain.
“The addition of a fifth site, made possible by the strong support offered by Blackstone and our four lending banks, further enhances our geographic footprint in the UK. As we begin construction at Woburn and continue our investment programme in the existing villages, I am confident we can continue to deliver both a first class experience for our guests and continue our track record of profitable growth.”
Joseph Baratta, Head of European Private Equity at Blackstone, the owner of Centre Parcs, added: “Centre Parcs is an excellent business loved by its guests. Since our ownership we have invested substantial capital in upgrading the guest experience by restyling the lodges, building new luxury tree houses as well as improving the restaurant and retail offering.
“We are pleased to continue supporting Centre Parcs by funding the equity required to build the new fifth site, which will expand the company’s presence in the important London market. We have owned Centre Parcs since May of 2006 and intend to stay invested in the business for many years to come. This is another example of the long-term investment that the funds we manage make in the UK. Our portfolio of companies in the UK, which now collectively employ more than 40, 000 people, have invested approximately £1 billion in their businesses to expand capacity, improve facilities and drive growth.”
Centre Parcs has operated in the UK for 25 years and is the leading UK short break provider in the industry. They continue to achieve excellent occupancy rates, filling more than 95% of their available accommodation year-on-year. The holiday company offer short breaks and weekend stays throughout the year, all year round and their name has become synonymous with high-quality, leisure and activity-based holidays in forest locations. As one of the world’s leading investment and advisory firms, Blackstone are committed to creating “positive economic impact and long-term value” for investors.