New buyer is theme park’s ticket to ride out administration

PwC has found a European buyer for a third-generation family-run theme park in Tamworth, which went into administration after experiencing cashflow difficulties, putting 600 jobs at risk

Mike Denny, director, and Peter Dickens, partner, of PwC were appointed to the group of companies operating Drayton Manor Theme Park, home of Thomas Land.

The group, comprising Drayton Manor Park Ltd, Drayton Manor Park (Catering) Ltd, and Drayton Manor Park Hotels Ltd, also ran various retail and catering outlets as well as a hotel.

It has been sold to Drayton Manor Resort Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Looping Parks UK Ltd.

The transaction includes all of the business and assets of the group, with 599 employees transferring across to the new company. 

Since its opening in 1950, the park has built up a strong local heritage and annually attracts over a million visitors. All trading aspects of the group remain in operation as usual, with existing bookings being honoured.

Mike Denny, joint administrator and PwC director, said: ‘The group had been facing exceptionally challenging trading conditions.

‘In February, Storm Dennis forced the park to close unexpectedly, while its planned reopening in March was delayed due to Covid-19. These factors combined exacerbated cash flow pressures on the group.

‘We are delighted to have helped secure a sale which preserves 599 jobs and ensures the survival of a much loved leisure attraction that is steeped in history and heritage.’

Looping Parks is a European group of regional leisure parks with 15 parks across the UK, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Portugal. In the UK, it currently owns West Midlands Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills.

Laurent Bruloy, CEO of the Looping Group, said: ‘We are thrilled and proud to welcome Drayton Manor Park and its talented team to our group.

‘I would like to commend the Bryan family who has, over three generations, been developing the park and made it one of the most beautiful references of our industry in the UK. We are deeply respectful about all that has been achieved by the teams.

‘We aim to continue the story and support Drayton Manor’s development with the same entrepreneurial DNA and values that we share while keeping the strong local anchorage of the resort.

‘Our aim is to provide visitors with an unforgettable, fun and entertaining family day out.  The park’s offering is the perfect fit with us, with its extensive range of award-winning rides and attractions including Europe’s first and only Thomas Land.’

William Bryan, managing director at Drayton Manor Park, said: ’For us, finding a buyer who would protect jobs was key, as was finding one who would continue to operate and develop the Drayton Manor Park our guests know and love.

‘Looping Group’s commitment towards a very ambitious investment plan and its pledge to reinvest profits primarily back into the park, made it a natural and very appealing fit for us.’

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