Hemmings loses £4m through Pontins failure


The Guardian reports that Trevor Hemmings, the racehorse owner and leisure magnate, has lost more than £4m following the failure of Pontin’s holiday camp chain, but he continues to have a close interest in the future of the business because he operates lucrative amusement arcades at the group’s five seaside camps.

Hemmings, whose Lancashire leisure interests range from BlackpoolTower to Preston North End football club, is one of Britain’s largest fruit machine and amusement arcade operators through his Crown Leisure business. He will be the largest creditor to Pontin’s after Santander, which is owed £43.5m. A statutory statement of proposals, sent to creditors this week by administrators from KPMG, makes clear “it is anticipated that there will be a significant deficit to the bank”. A £4m loan note from Crofton – a business ultimately owned by the Hemmings family through a Jersey investment company – ranks below the bank loan in the order of creditors, making it unlikely to have any value.

Hemmings has twice owned Pontin’s in the past. On the first occasion he led a management buyout in 1987 before selling it to brewer Scottish & Newcastle. In 2000 Hemmings bought back the business, selling it eight years later to a management team led by Graham Parr, one of his business lieutenants. In the 2008 sale Hemmings retained a 5% equity stake, which is now worthless following the decision to place Pontin’s in administration.

Asked if Hemmings had expressed an interest in acquiring part or all of Pontin’s, joint administrator Rob Croxen declined to comment. He said there had been approaches from trade buyers, wealthy individuals and private equity-backed management teams.

Among those reported to have expressed are Manchester-based Britannia Hotels; Bhanu Choudhrie, an Indian-born investor; and Richardson Group, which operates similar sites in the Norfolk Broads. Richardson Group acquired sites at Blackpool and Hemsby, Norfolk, from Pontin’s in recent years, closing both.

Pontin’s runs five camps – Brean Sands in Somerset, Camber Sands in Sussex, Pakefield in Suffolk, Prestatyn Sands in Wales and Southport on Merseyside – is continuing to operate as a going concern and employs 850 staff. It called in administrators in November.

As well as Crown Leisure, Hemmings’s leisure interests include the 600-pub Trust Inns landlord group and a small stake in Mitchells & Butlers. The best known of his racehorses is 2005 Grand National winner Hedgehunter. He is publicity-shy and is said to have homes in Jersey, the Isle of Man, Chorley, Lancashire, and Ireland, where he is believed to mix with the super-rich horse-owning set, including JP McManus and John Magnier

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With all the money this man has why don’t he just leave the camp as a holiday resort. Instead he wants to pull it down and build houses on it. Hemsby if a holiday destination people love Hemsby and use to love pontins

Daniel Hurd
10/04/2016, 19:30

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