Luxury Bluestone leisure resort sold in multi-million pound deal

Management buy-out for holiday park in Pembrokeshire rumoured to have cost group more than £10m


 The Bluestone National Park Resort in Pembrokeshire

The Bluestone National Park Resort, one of Wales leading tourism destinations, has been acquired in a management buyout in a deal believed to be worth more than £10m.

The deal, for which the value has not been formally disclosed, has seen the management team – led by founder of the business and chief executive William McNamara – acquiring the Pembrokeshire-based luxury holiday resort from majority equity holders Finance Wales and Lloyds Banking Group.

The deal – which provides working capital for the next phase of development at the resort – follows a sale process overseen by Deloitte which attracted interest from a number of other bidders including financial institutions.

It is also understood that holiday resort operator Center Parcs expressed an interest.

The MBO team have been supported by a group of individual backers including Heather Stevens, a trustee of charity the Waterloo Foundation which she founded with her husband and chief operating officer of motor insurance group David Stevens and former finance director of the FTSE 100 business Andrew Probert.

The MBO team also includes commercial director Pamela Joseph, operations director Ian Bartlett and finance director Neil Evans.

The investment will also allow nearly 500 staff at the resort to benefit from an employee benefit trust, which will be launched later in the year.

Mr McNamara said: “This is great news for Bluestone, for Pembrokeshire and for Wales.

“This is a great fifth birthday present for Bluestone, our staff and the local community and economy.

“It ensures Bluestone is kept in Welsh ownership and control with a management team driven to developing and sustaining a business employing over 500 people in Pembrokeshire.

“We’ve seen considerable growth since we opened in July 2008, attracting over 350,000 visitors into Pembrokeshire and we have further growth plans that will create new employment and bring more visitors into the area to support the wider tourism and economic communities.”

 The Bluestone management buy-out team, from left: William McNamara, Ian Bartlett, Pamela Joseph and Neil Evans  

Advisors for Bluestone on the deal were Cardiff-based corporate finance firm Gambit and Acuity Legal.

Senior partner with Gambit, which as part of the deal has taken a small equity stake in Bluestone, Frank Holmes, said: “This deal keeps ownership of the business in Wales and protects the supply chain for Pembrokeshire and South Wales. If it had gone to a larger player then this vitally economic important indigenous supply chain would have been compromised.

“It was great to work with Welsh-based investors and the management team to achieve a successful outcome.”

The resort has nearly 300 luxury lodges, cottages and studio apartments set around a private village that includes a spa, shops, a pub and restaurants.

Latest audited accounts for the business which owns the resort, Bluestone Resorts Ltd, for the year to January 5, 2012, shows that it had a bank debt position of just over £64m. Finance Wales had debt of £6m, with the rest owed to Bank of Scotland – part of Lloyds Banking Group.

The accounts show that repayment of a large proportion of the debt was extended to October this year.

They also show that the resort posted a turnover of £11.1m and pre-tax losses of £5.4m. However, since then the business has moved into a profitable Ebitda position for the first time.

Finance Wales would not comment on the terms of the deal, however a spokesman said: “From a standing start in 2008, Bluestone has grown into an award-winning Welsh holiday destination that has already attracted over 350,000 visitors. The company’s impact on the local economy in Pembrokeshire continues to grow – it currently employs 500 staff and also works with a range of local suppliers.

“Tourism is an important sector of the Welsh economy and Finance Wales has backed Bluestone since it was established five years ago. We wish the new management team and its backers well.”

Advisors to Lloyds Banking Group and Finance Wales were Deloitte and Eversheds.

In 2009 Bluestone Leisure Ltd took over ownership of the resort following a pre-pack administration deal.


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