Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

Boss buys Pontin's holiday camps

Pontin's sign, Camber Sands
At it's peak, the company had 24 holiday camps

Holiday camp company Pontin's, famous for its Bluecoats entertainers, has been sold to its former boss for 46m.

Graham Parr, a former chief executive, plans to "revitalise" the firm, which runs seven holiday villages in the UK.

He claims more British families will in future want to holiday at home due to concerns about airport security delays and the environmental impact of flying.

The number of Pontin's camps has shrunk with the increase in the number of people taking holidays abroad.

"This is almost like coming home to me. I am very excited by the prospects and I am delighted to be part of its future," executive chairman Graham Parr said.

New owners Ocean Parcs intend to modernise the accommodation at the camps to attract new visitors.

"I believe Pontin's has significant potential to increase the number of guests to its sites by adapting to the needs of the 21st century holidaymaker," chief executive Ian Smith said.

Budget holidays

Sir Fred Pontin established his first camp at Brean Sands in Somerset in 1946, to meet the demand for family holidays from soldiers returning from World War Two.

Pontin's holiday camp
In the 1960s, a week's full-board holiday at Pontin's cost 10.

Pontin's offered holidaymakers a low-cost holiday, staying in chalets, with entertainment for adults and children provided by the Bluecoats entertainers.

Former Eastenders actor Shane Ritchie and comedian Brian Connelly began their careers at Pontin's.

The company's heyday was in the 1960s and early 1970s, when there were more than 20 Pontin's holiday villages.

Founder Sir Fred Pontin was even one of the pioneers of the foreign package holiday, building hotels and camps in Majorca, Spain and Ibiza.

The company has changed hands a number of times.

It was sold to betting company Coral in 1978. Coral then sold Pontin's to Trevor Hemmings, whose company had built new camps at Southport and Prestatyn. He later sold the firm to brewer Scottish and Newcastle, before buying it back in 2000.

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