Sykes Holiday Cottages acquires Best of Suffolk

UK: Holiday cottage rental agency Sykes Holiday Cottages is expanding its UK property portfolio by acquiring Suffolk-based firm Best of Suffolk.

The purchase will increase Sykes’ portfolio by 400 properties, across the Suffolk coast, the Brecks and Constable, supplementing its existing portfolio of 20,000 properties.

Best of Suffolk, which was founded 15 years ago by husband and wife, Alex and Naomi Tarry, will still retain its brand name once the acquisition has been finalised.

Graham Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: “Like Sykes, the emphasis at Best of Suffolk has always been on providing wonderful holidays with high-quality customer service. This deal will enable the business to continue to grow with those principles at its heart, while also allowing us to bring all that this beautiful part of the country to offer to a much broader audience of holidaymakers.”

Meanwhile, the Tarrys will step down to pursue other ventures.

Alex Tarry said: “Stepping down after 15 years has been a difficult decision to make but we are sure that our team, our property owners and our guests will be in good hands with Sykes Holiday Cottages.”

Sykes, which has been backed by international investment firm Vitruvian Partners since 2019, reported record surges in bookings of 417 per cent during the pandemic, despite the implementation of national lockdowns and restrictions on mobility over the last 16 months.

As well as the UK, Sykes operates in Ireland and New Zealand, having invested in Auckland-based rental firm Bachcare two years ago.

In June, the company announced the launch of a nationwide competition to find ‘Britain’s Best Holiday Let’, with the overall winning entry receiving a £10,000 cash prize. Holiday homeowners can also enter categories including Best Renovation, Best Quirky Holiday Let, Best Sustainable Holiday Let, Best Interior Design and Best Property With a View, at this link by the deadline on 13 September 2021.

Last year, however, Sykes was forced to issue thousands of customers refunds for cancelled bookings during the first lockdown, after action from industry watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority [CMA], prompted the firm to reverse its coronavirus cancellations policy.

The company and the 24 businesses and brands it owns, as well as vacation rental site Vacation Rentals, which owns brands such as Hoseasons and Cottages.com were targeted by the investigation after the CMA claimed to have received 80 per cent of complaints since the start of March 2020 relating to cancellations and refunds.

Its main case against Sykes resulted from the agency reportedly refusing to provide full refunds in cash to all of its customers who had had their bookings cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.