Sykes Holiday Cottages has acquired Forest Holidays

Sykes buys Forest Holidays to create diversified holiday specialist group

UK: Holiday cottage rental agency Sykes Holiday Cottages has acquired a controlling stake in cabin owner and operator, Forest Holidays, to accelerate its ambition to become a leading UK-focused holiday group with a diverse range of unique rental accommodation. 

The terms of the transaction but it was reported to be a “nine figure” deal in Business Live.

As part of the acquisition, both companies will be run independently by their existing leadership teams under a newly-formed parent company. The firms say that they will be united by a common purpose to have a positive impact on the planet and local communities, while providing memorable shared experiences for their customers.

Operating since the mid-1970s, Forest Holidays provides “environmentally sensitive” cabins set across Britain’s forests, which have been created to promote sustainable woodland use and preserve the countryside and biodiversity.

To date, Forest Holidays has invested more than £100 million into Britain’s forests, increasing recreational use, improving facilities, and creating and maintaining trails. The company offers 12 forest locations, with many located in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, including Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in Scotland, as well as the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales which will open later this year.

Forest Holidays’ existing institutional investor group, led by Phoenix Equity Partners and LDC, will now realise their investment, while Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland and Natural Resources Wales will divest their legacy minority stake.

Sykes Holiday Cottages, which is backed by Vitruvian Partners, provides access to over 22,500 holiday homes and has made a number of high-profile acquisitions in the last year, including LHH Scotland, Lyme Bay Holidays, Northumbria Coast & Country Cottages, Abersoch Quality Homes and Best of Suffolk.

Sykes CEO Graham Donoghue said: “As the UK’s leading provider of woodland accommodation, Forest Holidays is the perfect complement to our existing holiday cottage rental business, offering our respective customers an unrivalled choice and quality of accommodation across a variety of settings. We’ve been impressed by what Bruce McKendrick and his team have achieved and are excited by our common purpose with a focus on environment, local and rural communities at the core of our businesses.

“It’s also a transformative acquisition for Sykes which creates a UK-focused multi-brand holiday group with market-leading technology, service and product. Looking ahead, we’re ideally placed to fly the flag for UK tourism and showcase the very best our islands have to offer from coast to country,” he added.

Forest Holidays CEO Bruce McKendrick said: “Forest Holidays has always sought to balance social, environmental and economic benefit. The benefits we bring to physical and mental well-being are more important than ever and in Sykes we have found a partner who shares this ethos.

“They also recognise the importance of our long-term partnership with the Forestry Commission and our shared objective to offer holidays that are good for people, good for nature and good for the environment. We are grateful to Phoenix and our other shareholders for helping us to build the business we have today.”

He added: “Graham Donoghue and his team’s commitment to a strong purpose is impressive and we are hugely excited by the opportunity to take this ambition forward together”

The combined group will employ more than 1,700 people, and is estimated to take over 2.65 million customers on holiday this year.

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