Staycations bring in cash for holiday parks

The families behind the Butlins and Haven holiday parks have reaped the benefit of Britain's "staycation" trend through bumper dividend payments.

Bourne Leisure, which is majority-owned by the Cook, Harris and Allen families, paid more than 40m in dividends last year, compared with the 27m handed out in 2008.

Annual results filed at Companies House also revealed payments of 19.7m since the start of this year.

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With more holidaymakers choosing to stay in Britain and the company benefiting from a lower interest bill following a refinancing, pre-tax profits jumped 61 per cent to 88m. Turnover was 6.3 per cent higher at 791.6m in 2009.

Bourne Leisure director John Dunford said heavy investment in its resorts and hotels also paid off. He said: "There was continued growth in short breaks, but also more people spent their main holiday in Britain."

Projects completed last year included the improvement of swimming pools in the Haven estate and the refurbishment of many of the rooms and public areas at its Warner Hotels business.

As well as the dividend rise, staff salaries increased last year after the wage bill climbed 16 per cent to 172m – faster than the four per cent rise in headcount to 10,697.

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The Hemel Hempstead-based company was founded by Peter Harris in the 1960s with one caravan park. It acquired Haven, Warner and Butlins in 2000 from Rank Group.

There are 35 Haven caravan parks across the UK, including at Blackpool, Weymouth and Tenby, while Butlins, which was founded by Billy Butlin in 1936, operates three resorts at Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness.

In 2008, a 2bn takeover of Bourne by private equity firm Candover fell through due to the difficult credit markets.

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