Hopes raised over future of Pontin's

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The Independent Online

Hopes were raised over the future of the Pontin's holiday camp brand today after administrators confirmed they had received 10 offers for the chain.

Administrators at KPMG said they were confident of securing a sale in the coming weeks after receiving the initial bids for Pontin's.

The holiday company called in administrators in November, but all five sites - at Brean Sands in Somerset, Camber Sands in Sussex, Pakefield in Suffolk, Prestatyn Sands in Wales and Southport in Merseyside - are being run as normal while a buyer is sought.

KPMG said the majority of bidders were interested in keeping the business going and retaining the Pontin's brand.

But in a blow to unsecured creditors, administrators said they were unlikely to receive enough money from the sale to pay the £3.6 million owed to them.

Rob Croxen, joint administrator of Pontin's and restructuring director at KPMG, said: "All employees, customers, suppliers and the various stakeholders involved in Pontin's have rallied throughout the administration process.

"Clearly this is a tough time for all concerned, but the level of support really reflects the goodwill the brand has earned over its long history.

"We have received a great deal of interest in the business and should be in a position to make an announcement on the sale of the business in the coming weeks."

KPMG said it had paid all staff wages for Pontin's 850 employees and said pension contributions were up to date.

Pontin's, best known for its "blue coat" entertainers, collapsed into administration after struggling in recent years from the arrival of cheap package holidays.

The decline worsened in the recession and KPMG said on its appointment that the company had run out of cash because bookings had fallen drastically in the past year.

On administration, it owed £47.6 million to around 1,000 unsecured and secured creditors.

But a report to creditors published today revealed interest in the business from buyers was strong, with 62 expressions of interest since it failed.

KPMG also said there had been a "significant" number of new bookings for holidays at Pontin's in 2011.

It is continuing to pay for advertising to help maintain business at the holiday camps.

Pontin's was started when Fred Pontin opened the first Pontin's Holiday Park in Brean Sands in 1946.

It organises entertainment for its guests featuring acts such as Keith Harris and Orville, Bobby Davro and Chico.

In its heyday, the Pontin's empire stretched to 31 parks and in 1978 it was bought by Coral for £56 million.

It then changed hands a number of times, with owners including Bass Brewing and Scottish & Newcastle, before being sold to Ocean Parks for £46 million in 2008.