Sykes Holiday Cottages acquires agencies in Scotland and Dorset

UK: Chester-based holiday cottage rental agency Sykes Holiday Cottages has confirmed that it has agreed deals to acquire holiday home rental agencies, LHH Scotland and Lyme Bay Holidays.

Both businesses will continue to operate as sister agencies following the acquisitions, however their 450 holiday homes in Scotland, Dorset and Devon will be available to book through Sykes.

LHH Scotland, based in Dingwall, made headlines in 2020 after being referred to the Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] over claims that the business was not refunding customers who had had to cancel their stays in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Angry holidaymakers, some of whom claimed to have lost hundreds of pounds due to the company’s refund policy, contacted national newspaper Scotland on Sunday to complain that there had been inconsistencies with people’s bookings, with some claiming to have been offered the chance to rebook for a different date, and others being told that they would have to forfeit their deposit and not be able to rebook their stay.

LHH Scotland disputed the claims due to the agency structure of the business, as it said that it was not under the same legal obligation to provide a refund as other holiday let firms.

Sykes, along with Vacation Rentals [which owns holiday accommodation brands including Hoseasons and Cottages.com], were also threatened with legal action by the CMA if they failed to provide full refunds to customers. Both eventually issued refunds and reversed their policies on refunds after probes to uncover whether the businesses were in breach of the set guidelines.

The fresh purchases take Sykes’ offering to more than 22,000 holiday cottages across the UK, Ireland and New Zealand – a significant increase from around 5,000 properties five years ago.

Last year, the company strengthened its UK portfolio with the acquisitions of Suffolk-based firm Best of Suffolk, Welsh regional holiday home specialist Abersoch Quality Homes and Alnmouth-based agency Northumbria Coast & Country Cottages.

Then last month, Sykes bolstered its senior leadership team after announcing a number of hires and promotions at the company, including appointing a new chief technology officer [CTO].