Commercial property: Holiday parks set to benefit

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There is no doubt that Brexit has created a degree of uncertainty in the UK commercial property market, but there is one area that seems almost uniquely placed to capitalise on the after-effects of the vote to leave the European Union.

The UK holiday and caravan park market has been buoyant since before the referendum was mooted.

The recession of nearly a decade ago, coupled with the increasingly fashionable “staycation” concept has helped to make holidaying on home soil a more popular choice.

But while holiday and caravan park bookings were already showing an upward trend in the years leading up to 2016, some park operators have reported a further surge in bookings since the vote to leave the EU. The result is that investment in the sector is becoming more and more attractive.

Low exchange rates – the pound fell to a 31-year low against the dollar amid fears of the consequences of a “hard Brexit” – is a contributing factor.

With the value of the pound down, UK tourists are receiving fewer dollars or euros when exchanging their cash, making overseas holidays and spending abroad more expensive.

Equally, current rates give international visitors more incentive to travel to the UK and inbound visits are on the rise as the cost goes down.

The combination means that the attraction of owning such a park is on the rise, both for investment purposes and as a lifestyle choice.

Suzanne Lawrie of DM Hall, has just overseen the sale of Bunroy Park at Roy Bridge in the Spean valley and says that it attracted a significant level of interest from all over the UK.

“It was particularly from people looking for a change of pace and an opportunity to relocate to a beautiful part of Scotland,” Lawrie explains.

The holiday lodge, caravan and camping park over nine acres was priced at £895,000 and sold to a Manchester couple, who have a number of developments in mind to ensure its continuation as a successful business.

Its location was a key selling point according to Lawrie. Bunroy lies at the confluence of the main West Highland tourist routes, the A86 and the A82, which deliver hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from all over the world.

Location plus facilities and the willingness to fully commit to running a park makes for the most successful business according to David Gracie who, with his wife, is retiring and therefore currently marketing their holiday park on Mull.

Isle of Mull Campsite Cottages & Shielings is also priced at £895,000, and brings in a net profit of over £93,000 per annum.“It is an exceptional business in great condition,” says Gracie.

“We are in a location close to the ferry and turnover in 2016 was up over 30 per cent.”

Based on 32 years of trading, he says the park commands a loyal customer base and – crucially in these days of online customer feedback – excellent reviews.

But diversification can help too. Gracie says: “As well as two self catering cottages and 90 touring pitches, we offer glamping in 16 shielings, semi-permanent tents designed and made on site.”

He says although it is primarily a holiday park, the business is not just seasonal. “We also make the Shieling Dryer, a green replacement for the tumble dryer. Winter manufacturing helps provide all-year employment.”