Flood of Pontin’s buyer enquiries

A flood of inquiries has been made over purchasing the holiday park company Pontin's, which went into administration on Friday.

Last night administrators at KPMG were still going through the books of Pontin's which has five holiday centres, including the Pakefield Holiday Park, near Lowestoft.

As KPMG confirmed there had already been a huge amount of interest from potential buyers, a plea was issued by local politicians, who said everything should be done to ensure the park and its staff have a long-term future.

Despite the positive response from bidders, including wealthy Asian and Middle Eastern businessmen, it is still feared Lowestoft could be hit by yet another large job loss if new buyers decide not to invest in the Pakefield site or even close it.

Earlier this year, Waveney District Council approved �10m plans for a dramatic expansion at Pakefield which would see visitor numbers rise from 60,000 to 125,000 a year and create 160 new jobs.

County councillor for Pakefield Ken Sale said he hoped Pontin's site would not go the same way as other Lowestoft-based companies and factories. Jeld Wen, Sanyo, SLP and Wessex Foods have all closed or shed hundreds of jobs.

Mr Sale said: 'It would be a big blow if anything happened to the Pakefield Holiday Park – not only for its staff but for Lowestoft as well as it would have a large impact locally because it brings in so many visitors.

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'Obviously, the staff must be very fearful at the moment and I hope the administrators are covering those fears.'

Peter Byatt, Waveney district councillor for Pakefield, said: 'I can see the park's staff must be extremely worried as Christmas is coming up and bills also have to be paid.

'The investment plans for the new site are important as it will double the park's capacity and provide many new jobs, which will have a knock-on effect on the local economy.'

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he would be contacting the district council and KPMG to make sure a sale takes place as quickly as possible with a buyer with the necessary capital to fund the park's expansion.

Mr Aldous said he sympathised with the park's staff for the uncertainty they were going through.

Pontin's, which employs 850 staff nationally, went into administration because the company ran out of cash after bookings fell drastically in the past year.

KPMG says the company will continue to trade as normal while a purchaser is sought, which could include Indian millionaire Bhanu Choudhrie and the Dubai Royal Family for a joint bid of �15m, according to the Mail on Sunday.

However, KPMG told the EDP yesterday that no direct contact had been made with either party, but it had received many inquiries from interested parties.

Jane Moriarty, joint administrator of Pontin's and restructuring partner at KPMG, said: 'It is a testament to the value of the Pontin's brand that we have received such a deluge of inquiries from potential buyers.

'We expect business people from across the leisure industry will be looking closely at Pontin's.

'Great British brands are also appealing to wealthy overseas investors, particularly from the Middle East or Asia, who have not been as affected by the economic downturn as the West.'