“People are booking early to avoid disappointment,” says former Matalan finance director Ian Smith, who bought Pontin’s for £46m last year. “They’ve noticed what’s going on with the euro and the dollar. Holidays abroad just aren’t that attractive at the moment. Sure, you can get a cheap flight to Spain with Ryanair but, once you get out there, you have to pay the equivalent of £3.50 for a bottle of beer. "And you can’t get very far on one bottle of beer!" Smith also plans to kick off a reburbishment programme at the holiday park this year. “I’m walking around one of our centres as we speak,” he says. “We’re looking at what we can do to revive the parks, such as new slides in the swimming pools. This year we’ll spend £3-5m on upgrades. Over the next five years, we’ll invest £50m. So why is Pontin’s faring so well while other companies are hurtling into administration? “We’re outstanding value for money,” says Smith. “A family of four could stay here for a week for £600. Butlin’s would set you back £1,000." Last year, Pontin’s made £3.5m on sales of £55m. This year, Smith expects to pull in £5m. Related articles:Former Matalan FD is part of new team at Pontin’s Picture source
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