Center Parcs changes hands

Pictured in Newcastle Woods, Ballymahon at the site of the new Center Parcs development, is Martin Dalby CEO of Center Parcs. The holiday village is expected to be open to guests in 2019. Photo: Maxwells/Julien Behal
The sale of UK leisure firm Center Parcs to a major real estate company will have no impact on plans to build a 375 acre holiday village on the outskirts of Ballymahon.

The sale of UK leisure firm Center Parcs to a major real estate company will have no impact on plans to build a 375 acre holiday village on the outskirts of Ballymahon.

The deal, which was concluded last week, saw the holiday resort group being acquired for an undisclosed fee from Canadian Brookfield Partners.

It’s expected the takeover will be completed next month in an agreement that will also have no affect on the group’s proposed Newcastle Woods development.

Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby, who was in Ballymahon last week for an open day to discuss the plans with locals, said the agreement was significant.

“This announcement marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Center Parcs,” he said.

“From the first time we met, Brookfield has demonstrated a real understanding of our business and I am absolutely convinced that we can work together to achieve our strategic goals.

Though the deal has been described as “undisclosed” it’s believed the final total could top £2bn.

Its previous owners, Blackstone opted to sell the leisure operator rather than float it after snapping up the firm for £1.1bn in 2006.

Since then, the private equity giant has invested in Center Parcs’ amenity and infrastructural assets while lifting occupancy levels to 97 per cent.

Conscious of those improvements, Mr Dalby said Center Parcs was now in a stronger position than it was nine years ago.

“Under Blackstone’s ownership, Center Parcs has flourished, and I would like to thank them for their support and commitment to our business,” he added.

Following its well documented announcement in April, Center Parcs has vowed to create up to 1,000 full and part time jobs when its first Irish holiday village opens in 2019. Around 750 construction jobs are also expected to come on stream.