Lead Forensics

Carl Castledine at the 2019
LDC Top 50 event in London

CASE STUDY & PORTFOLIO

Away Resorts: organic and acquisitive growth

We did spring a very ambitious plan on them and they backed it fully.

Carl Castledine
CEO Away Resorts

Carl Castledine partnered with LDC to support organic and acquisitive growth at holiday park operator Away Resorts.

Away Resorts is a unique, British, leading operator of holiday parks.

Deal type
Investment

£18.5m

Exit date

June 2021

We invested £18.5m in a secondary buyout of leading British holiday park operator Away Resorts in 2015. Working in partnership with CEO and Founder Carl Castledine to help him make three acquisitions in three years and develop Away Resorts’ existing sites. By 2018, revenue had increased to £63m and employee numbers had more than doubled from 450 to 950.

Founded 10 years ago by leisure entrepreneur Carl Castledine, Away Resorts operates eight holiday parks across the UK including Tattershall Lakes in Lincolnshire, Whitecliff Bay on the Isle of Wight and St Ives Holiday Park just off the Cornish Coast.

Moving quickly

In 2015, we first backed Carl and his management team to deliver a growth plan which looked to capitalise on the buoyant market for ‘staycations’ in the UK.

We initially invested £18.5m to help improve and expand Away Resorts’ existing sites as well as to fund acquisitions.

Carl chose to partner with LDC based on the flexibility of funding and quality of market insight we were able to offer.

Carl Castledine spoke with us about his experience of private equity and partnering with LDC

play

New and upgraded sites

During our four-year partnership with Carl and his team, the business invested more than £45m in existing site and added state-of-the-art entertainment complexes, new pitches and facilities.

In addition to organic growth, Away Resorts acquired Mersea Island Holiday Park in Essex in 2015, Cosways Holiday Park in 2016 and Sandy Balls in the New Forest in 2017 – supported by additional follow-on funding from LDC.

Three acquisitions in three years, plus continued investment in site improvements, formed a group with six sites, which was valued in excess of £100m.

By 2018, revenue had increased to £63m and employee numbers had grown from 450 to 950.

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As a backer, [LDC] is flexible, has deep pockets and can provide follow-on funding, which was important to us.”
Carl Castledine, CEO
Away Resorts

Support through expertise

Our approach was ideally suited to Away Resorts’ culture, business model and sector. “LDC has been incredible,” said Carl. “As a backer, it is flexible, has deep pockets and can provide follow-on funding, all of which was important to us.”

We brought more than capital to the table. “It has a big portfolio of other businesses that we can lean on to help us,” he added. “LDC also gave me the opportunity to speak to a variety of Chairmen to have on my board, and he became hugely important to our development as a business.”

As with all our partnerships, we invested in Away Resorts’ high-quality management team and backed them to run their businesses their own way.

“LDC hasn’t interfered with us operationally. We are diligent about providing information about what we want to do and how, and then they let us get on with it. The relationship is collaborative, not dictatorial.”

On-going support

Following a four-year partnership, Carl and LDC worked together on the strategic sale of Away Resorts to Bregal Freshstream in May 2019.

As part of the deal, LDC retained a minority shareholding to continue to back Carl and his team.

With follow-on funding provided by LDC, Away Resorts has continued its acquisition growth strategy, recently adding popular hotel and leisure estate Boston West, in Lincolnshire and St Ives Bay Holiday Park, located near the north Cornish coast to its portfolio.

In June 2021, LDC fully exited its minority investment in Away Resorts following a successful six year partnership. The exit was part of a transaction led by Freshstream, which is expected to complete later this year, subject to regulatory approvals.

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LDC has helped me individually and there has been a high and wide investment in people, assets, and our digital future. We now have ambitions to become a billion-pound business within 10 years”
Carl Castledine, CEO
Away Resorts