Pontin’s, the “Hi-de-Hi” operator that took a punt on the recession forcing British holidaymakers to forsake trips abroad for cheaper UK holiday camps, has gone into administration.
KPMG, appointed on Friday, said it was in the process of appointing a leisure operator to ensure the company continued trading.
Pontin’s has five sites – in Somerset, Sussex, Suffolk, Wales and on Merseyside – and employs 850 people, including its Bluecoat entertainers. The business was bought in 2007 by Ocean Parcs, a consortium led by Graham Parr, former Pontin’s chief executive, which paid Trevor Hemmings £46m.
Pontin's announced in February 2009 that it was pouring £50m into its holiday centres and doubling its workforce to 4,000, in the expectation that the downturn would encourage holidaymakers to trade down. Since then, it has closed its Blackpool site.
Mr Parr said on Friday that trading remained strong but that its lender, Santander, had become concerned at the declining value of the business. Discussions with the bank on Friday centred on extending a £600,000 rolling credit facility, but it was withdrawn, he said.
“We were a profitable business and a good business,” said Mr Parr, himself a former Bluecoat. “But we can’t continue to trade without their support. It’s one of those very annoying situations.”
Santander said it had provided working capital support for 12 months while seeking to restructure core facilities or sell the business, but neither had been possible.
Mr Parr said Pontin’s business plan had been to pay down debt when land prices rose. “The difference is the price we paid originally in 2007 to what the value is today. The problem is the banks live on loan-to-value,” he said.
Mr Parr said he was in discussions with a number of parties about making a bid for the business.
Jane Moriarty of KPMG said it was the administrators’ intention to honour all bookings and she was confident Pontin’s would attract interest from potential buyers.
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