Phoenix private equity takes control of Forest Holidays

LDC has completed the sale of Forest Holidays, which owns and operates secluded eco-cabins and treehouses on nine sites across Britain’s National Forests -including Derbyshire- to Phoenix Equity Partners.

As part of the transaction, LDC will reinvest for a significant minority stake, alongside the Forestry Commission and the management team.

The company has grown strongly since LDC invested in 2012 to help drive the growth of the business. During the five-year partnership, cabin numbers more than doubled and EBITDA increased from under £1m to in excess of £10m. The company now has 571 cabins across nine sites, with a further two in development in Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. On completion of those two sites, over half of its locations will be within Britain’s National Parks.

Forest Holidays’ purpose is to create positive experiences in Britain’s amazing forests; connecting people, nature and local communities. The Company’s cabins are sensitively planned around the existing forest, with minimal felling, strategic re-planting, and a very low environmental footprint due to the use of sustainable materials, such as air-source heat pumps, hydroelectric plants, and a dark skies policy across its estate. Each location is designed specifically to integrate into the forest environment, keeping open access for wildlife, local communities and visitors. Forest Holidays supports domestic rural tourism with an average sustainable contribution of £2m per annum and 60 jobs per site, benefitting the local economy.

The transaction was led by investment director David Bains and Andy Grove, head of new business for LDC.

Bruce McKendrick, CEO at Forest Holidays, said: “Forest Holidays’ strategy and vision has enabled the Company to grow to 571 cabins in nine stunning locations across the UK. I would like to thank LDC for their faith in investing in the Company in 2012 and for being a very supportive partner over the last five years. We are delighted they are staying on board. I am convinced that the alignment of existing shareholders, coupled with the catalyst of Phoenix’s investment, will create a fabulous opportunity to deliver the next exciting phase of the Company’s growth.”

Martin Draper, CEO of LDC added: “During our five-year partnership with Forest Holidays, we’ve continually been impressed by the ambition of Bruce and the management team. They’ve maintained a clear vision on how to generate growth, and as a result of strong demand have more than doubled cabin numbers.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership as we support the business on the next phase of its expansion. Alongside Phoenix, we’ll be helping the team in continuing to deliver leading luxury accommodation in a growing staycation market, as part of our commitment to backing ambitious businesses in the Midlands.”