Suffolk/UK: Staycations boost Center Parcs profits

A SURGE in the number of holidaymakers taking so-called staycations saw profits increase at leisure firm Center Parcs, it emerged yesterday.

The company, which launched its holiday villages in the UK in 1987 – including the site at Elveden Forest in 1989 – saw pre-tax profits rise 17% to �28.9million in the year to April, it was reported.

Center Parcs, which is owned by US buyout firm Blackstone, saw sales climb 4% to �290.5m at its four holiday villages as cash-strapped families chose to holiday in the UK rather than go abroad.

Center Parcs was not available for comment yesterday. The stay-cation trend has been on the rise as increasing inflation and muted wage growth squeeze spending power and the weak pound makes it more expensive to go overseas.

The company’s four holiday villages at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire and Whinfell Forest in Cumbria saw occupancy rates of 96% in the period.

Trade was boosted by charging higher prices for new tree-house accommodation and for refurbished guest villas, it was reported.

About half of Center Parcs’ villas have been upgraded and the company hopes that improving the remainder will boost sales.

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The company has a provisional opening date for a new �200m site in Bedfordshire in 2013.

Earlier this month, it emerged the families behind the Butlins and Haven holiday parks had enjoyed a �33m dividend payment.

Bourne Leisure, which is majority-owned by the Cook, Harris and Allen families, saw a 6% rise in pre-tax profits to �93.4m in the year to December 2010, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

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