The Acquisition of the Waterside Holiday Resort in Bodmin

Evelyn Partners LLP (formerly Smith & Williamson LLP) has led a job-rescuing deal for the acquisition of the Waterside resort in Bodmin.

CMB Partners UK also worked on the transaction.

The sale comes on the heels of a business restructuring, and the implementation of a new business plan, led by Clare Lloyd, Finbarr O’Connell and Colin Hardman of Evelyn Partners and Lane Bednash of CMB, appointed in March 2020 as joint administrators and liquidators of the companies that owned the Waterside resort. The restructure was aimed at stabilising trading at the resort and turning it into a profitable venture. As a result, the venture remained operational, as far as was possible, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

All staff positions will be retained at the business following its sale to Park Holidays, which follows a comprehensive marketing campaign conducted in the last quarter of 2021 and a subsequent competitive bid. It is expected that the deal will benefit creditors of London Capital & Finance plc, the failed minibond provider which held significant investments in the business.

Clare Lloyd, who led the restructuring assignment, hailed the opportunity for the resort to fulfil its potential under Park Holidays’ ownership. “The restructuring teams at Smith & Williamson and CMB Partners are very happy to have brought about this hugely positive outcome for what was a struggling operation which had previously suffered from lack of investment,” she said.

 

Lawyer Monthly had the pleasure to speak with Clare Lloyd, Associate Director at Evelyn Partners LLP to give us some further insight into this transaction:

Please tell us more about the work your team undertook in restructuring the Waterside resort following the appointment of administrators in 2020.

Further to the appointment of administrators over the Waterside resort, it was apparent that essential remedial works and compliance procedures were required, together with an overhaul of the operating policies and staff management. This would ensure that a purchaser would be able to safely  operate the site and to maximise trading returns both during the pandemic and also once the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

The Resort had multiple stakeholders and a complex ownership structure, with a large number of freehold and leasehold titles and competing security, which required detailed legal analysis and lengthy engagement with stakeholders, to enable the sale of the Resort in its entirety. The work undertaken to complete a consolidated sale improved the value returned to stakeholders more than would have otherwise been achieved on a piecemeal property sale basis. Joe Pitt, at Fraser Real Estate, worked with the administrators in order to develop a workable strategy and workaround in this regard. The legal property analysis was led by Sarah Spurling from Mishcon de Reya.

What challenges did you encounter as part of this work, and how did you overcome them?

Immediately following our appointment in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions were imposed by the government, which resulted in the Resort only being permitted to trade in very limited circumstances, for business-critical stays. However, it did allow us to retain all staff under the job retention scheme that was launched at this time. We utilised this period to complete the critical maintenance works to the Resort to ensure maximum capacity once the restrictions eased.

The work undertaken to complete a consolidated sale improved the value returned to stakeholders more than would have otherwise been achieved on a piecemeal property sale basis.

Whilst the pandemic had a devastating effect on a large number of businesses, once we were permitted to reopen the site fully to customers, the huge demand for ‘staycations’ generated a profitable trading period until the Resort was sold.

Now that the acquisition is complete, what impact do you believe Park Holidays’ ownership will have on the resort and tourism in Cornwall?

It can only be a positive result for the Resort, the surrounding area and its residents. Park Holidays are one of the largest holiday park operators in the UK; their acquisition provides certainty for the continued trading and additional development of Waterside. It has resulted in the preservation of local jobs and committed investment in the Resort, which will contribute to the local area generally and offer an enhanced holiday experience to those visiting Bodmin and the wider Cornwall.

It additionally delivers a welcome indicator that businesses are willing to invest in staycation providers, which can only benefit the UK leisure and tourism industry.

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