Private equity firm sells stake in holiday park operator to management team

The private equity firm behind the likes of Gusto and The Alchemist has sold its stake in a Lancaster-headquartered holiday park operator.

Palatine Private Equity, which has an office in Manchester, has disposed of its interest in Verdant Leisure to the firm’s management team who are backed by Pears Partnership Capital.

The deal is subject to FCA approval and the financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

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Verdant Leisure offers lodge and caravan holidays and holiday home ownership at sites across Scotland and Northern England.

The sale will see Palatine exit the business with a returns multiple of 3.7x following a strategy of acquisitions and value creation which has grown Verdant’s annual turnover by 150% since 2016.

Since investing in the business in April 2016, Palatine has supported Verdant to acquire six additional sites, increasing its footprint to 10 locations and 3,500 pitches.

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Ed Fazakerley, partner at Palatine Private Equity, said: “This exit marks the culmination of a highly successful investment for Palatine, achieving remarkable growth through strategic buy and build opportunities and a driving focus on operational excellence and sustainability.

“There has been a growing trend towards staycations in the UK holiday market with increased demand for holiday accommodation in premium locations.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the management team to add value to the business and we wish them every success with their future growth plans.”

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Graham Hodgson, chief executive of Verdant Leisure, added: “We have enjoyed great support from Palatine over the last five years. The team’s expertise in buy and build and its forward-thinking approach to ESG strategy, has helped us to scale profitably and consolidate our status as an operator of choice at a time of great opportunity in the UK holiday market.

“The management team now look forward to continuing this growth strategy with the support of our new investors at Pears Partnership Capital.”

Mark Crowther, managing director of Pears Partnership Capital which acts on behalf of The Pears family in respect of direct private equity investments in operating businesses, said: “We are delighted to have signed this initial investment into the UK caravan park sector. Our commitment to investing for the long term will significantly differentiate us as an owner.

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“We are excited about working with the management team in a market that is full of opportunity.”

The deal is the fourth exit for Palatine in 2021 so far. In May it completed the sale of its shareholding in road safety training provider TTC to its management team and Pricoa Private Capital.

In June it exited its stake in Wealth at Work to Aquiline Capital Partners and in July it agreed a deal to sell its stake in national independent financial adviser Wren Sterling to the management team supported by Lightyear Capital LLC.

Palatine has also completed four new investments in 2021 with the acquisitions of Anthesis, FourNet, Routes Healthcare and TranScrip across its buyout and impact funds.

Palatine was advised by Gareth Iley, Mike Reeves, Zack Goddard and Dom Moir at Clearwater International and Rebecca Grisewood and Leigh Whittaker at Gateley.

Pears Partnership Capital was advised by Jessica Adam and Mark Stephens at Macfarlanes.

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