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Villages Clubs du Soleil buys Vacancéole to grow French presence

France: Marseille-based holiday club operator Villages Clubs du Soleil has completed its acquisition of holiday rental specialist Vacancéole for undisclosed terms.

The strategic purchase will enable Villages Clubs du Soleil to expand its presence in the French market, while diversifying its destinations and service offering, as it seeks to become a leader in the domestic holiday sector in France. Meanwhile, Vacancéole will retain “its scope and identity” despite the acquisition, according to a press release.

A number of banks and funds participated in the transaction, including Caisse d’Epargne CEPAC, Banque Populaire Méditerranée, CIC, Crédit Mutuel, BPI France, BNP Paribas, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and Smalt Capital, via the government’s Obligations Relance France scheme, which supports SMEs [small- and medium-sized enterprises] with long-term financing.

Villages Clubs du Soleil, which achieved a €74 million turnover in 2022, currently owns and manages 17 mountain, seaside and city holiday villages across France, including destinations such as the Alps, the Savoie region, Provence and Brittany.  
At the same time, Vacancéole reported a €62 million turnover last year and currently manages and operates around holiday rentals and residences in 100+ destinations in France.

Jérôme Pasquet, president of the management board at Villages Clubs du Soleil, said: “This project is an important step in continuing to steer our group through the major transitions underway, whether climate, societal or digital. We are enthusiastic and eager to work with the Vacancéole teams.

“To create, innovate and further accelerate the development of our social tourism group, 60 years after our creation as an association, a new chapter is opening that promises to be exciting, while respecting our fundamentals,” he added.

Eric Journiat , co-founder and CEO of Vacancéole, said: “I am very happy to carry out this operation with Villages Clubs du Soleil. It is an important moment for me, the Vacancéole teams and for the company.

“After a personal career of 40 years in the tourism environment, I have chosen to back the company that I created in 2009 with a financially solid player who has strong development ambitions. Beyond a personal choice, consolidation movements are inevitable in our sector.

“We have studied several consolidation projects and the one proposed by Jérôme Pasquet and Villages Clubs du Soleil is the one that seemed to us to be by far the most solid and the one that allowed our teams to continue the exceptional work they have done for nearly 15 years.

“I am very proud of the path accomplished, very proud of the teams who have made the company grow, and very proud to entrust the future of Vacancéole to Villages Clubs du Soleil. I would like to thank our partners, Garibaldi Participations and C2AD (Crédit Agricole Alpes Développement), for supporting and trusting us since July 2020,” he added.

The French domestic holiday sector is both consolidating and attracting investor interest this year, potentially due to the cost of living crisis and also due to the anticipated influx of tourists for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in the country.

In February, campsite franchise Les Vacances Camping Paradis secured investment to fund its expansion across France. Later that month, tour operator European Camping Group [ECG], which specialises in the mobile home holiday market, completed a €1 billion acquisition of French campsite brand Vacanceselect Group.