Center Parcs to commence construction on fifth site at Woburn
- Investment funds managed by Blackstone and lending banks to back £250 million new site
- Total of 1,500 new jobs to be created, plus more than 1,200 construction jobs
- David Cameron welcomes boost to British economy
Center Parcs, one of the UK's leading holiday and short break providers, has announced that it is to start construction on a fifth site at Woburn (Bedfordshire) to complement its four existing sites.
Investment funds managed by Blackstone, Center Parcs' owner, will support this important capital project by committing to invest approximately £100m of new cash equity into the business. Four leading UK banks - RBS, Barclay, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group - have committed to a construction loan of approximately £150m.
The development will inject over £250m into the British economy, and will employ over 1,200 contractors during the construction phase. Once opened, Center Pacs Woburn Forest will employ 1,500 people on a permanent basis, the majority of whom will come from the local area.
Prime Minister David Cameron commented: "Center Parcs is much loved by many and this new site is not only great news for holiday makers but great news for the economy too. This expansion and the jobs that it brings will be a real boost to growth and a sign of the increasing investor confidence that there is too."
Center Parcs Woburn Forest is expected to open in spring 2014. Construction will commence in the coming months and will be one of the largest projects of its type in Britain for many years.
Center Parcs Woburn Forest will comprise of 625 forest lodges, a 75-bed hotel and spa with 12 associated Spa Suites and two main centres including indoor sports facilities, swimming pool, restaurants and retail outlets. It will also include outdoor sports and leisure facilities and a lake.
It will complement Center Parcs’ existing four sites at Whinfell Forest (Cumbria), Sherwood Forest (Nottinghamshire), Elveden Forest (Suffolk) and Longleat Forest (Wiltshire). Pre-construction works at the site have been completed and the tender process for the main construction work is well advanced, meaning that construction at Woburn is intended to commence shortly.
Funding for the new site is being provided by investment funds managed by Blackstone with the support of four lending banks, RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group.
On Tuesday 28th February 2012, Center Parcs successfully completed a £1 billion group refinancing secured against the existing four Center Parcs sites. This bond issue replaces the previous debt structure and has secured a long-term, efficient and flexible capital structure for the company’s next stage of growth. Importantly, the refinancing of the previous structure allows Center Parcs to commence construction of the fifth site at Woburn.
Martin Dalby, Chief Executive of Center Parcs, said of today’s announcement: “I am delighted to be moving ahead with the construction of our new site at Woburn, which will bring significant benefits for both our guests and the wider economy. This is our 25th year of operation and Center Parcs is trading strongly, with occupancy rates of around 97% throughout 2011 and positive forward booking trends for 2012, as guests continue to respond positively to the high quality holiday experience we offer.
"The addition of a fifth site, made possible by the strong support offered by Blackstone and our four lending banks, further enhances our geographic footprint in the UK. As we begin construction at Woburn and continue our investment programme in the existing villages, I am confident we can continue to deliver both a first class experience for our guests and continue our track record of profitable growth.”
Joseph Baratta, Head of European Private Equity at Blackstone, the owner of Center Parcs, added: “Center Parcs is an excellent business loved by its guests. Since our ownership we have invested substantial capital in upgrading the guest experience by restyling the lodges, building new luxury Treehouses as well as improving the restaurant and retail offering. We are pleased to continue supporting Center Parcs by funding the equity required to build the new fifth site, which will expand the company’s presence in the important London market. We have owned Center Parcs since May 2006 and intend to stay invested in the business for many years to come.
"This is another example of the long-term investment that the funds we manage make in the UK. Our portfolio of companies in the UK, which now collectively employ more than 40,000 people, have invested approximately £1 billion in their businesses to expand capacity, improve facilities and drive growth."