Conduit Skegness Limited – the owner of one of the UK’s biggest seaside theme parks – has entered into administration amidst increasing uncertainty about the financial future of the company.
Fantasy Island – a Skegness-based subsidiary of the struggling business – currently has an estimated 172 members of staff on their books, of which 52 are believed to be permanent and the remaining 120 seasonal temps.
Duff & Phelps Ltd have been assigned the role of presiding over Conduit Skegness Ltd’s company rescue attempts with managing directors Paul Clark and Ben Wiles being appointed as joint administrators.
And both Clark and Wiles have moved to allay immediate fears that Fantasy Island is nearing closure by identifying that they do not expect any jobs to be lost this summer, though they failed to provide the long-term assurances many have been looking for over its future.
The co-administrators also reiterated that the theme park- which garners over 35,000 tourists every day and has been described as “Europe’s largest seven-day market”- will continue to run normally and be open for business until the other companies on the site of the theme park have been evaluated.
“The business will continue to operate as usual while the Administrators review the Company’s financial position and no job losses are expected among permanent staff and the seasonal temporary expansion of the payroll during the summer holiday season will continue as usual”.
They added: “Conduit Skegness owns the 41-acre freehold property in Skegness, Lincolnshire, from which it operates Fantasy Island, the family resort including theme park rides, Europe’s largest permanent seven-day market and 340 static caravan park pitches.
The Administrators will evaluate the prospects of the various businesses before engaging with any parties interested in acquiring the business, its land or any assets, although registrations of interest are welcome.”
Fantasy Island has been a popular tourist attraction since 1995, and has bolstered the local economy in Skegness considerably with its provision of employment prospects, tourist allure and revenue. In particular, the theme park has garnered widespread popularity for its staging of live music performances, with a multitude of tribute bands and oomphah acts being welcomed to its premises in recent times.
And Conduit Skegness have received public support from local authorities in their area, who have wished the company a speedy recovery from its financial turbulence and have pledged to provide as much assistance as possible to help it during its company administration.
Craig Leyland, East Lindsey District Council Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, said: “It’s always disappointing when a business finds itself in financial difficulty. Fantasy Island is an important visitor attraction for Ingoldmells and the wider District and we hope the administrators are able to find a way forward that secures the future of the site and jobs long term. We’re pleased the administrators have confirmed that Fantasy Island remains open as normal during the administration process and that no job losses are to be expected at this time.”
Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economic Development at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Fantasy Island has been, for many years, a key tourist attraction on the Lincolnshire coast so we are, of course, concerned by today’s news.
“The previous and present owners have invested positively in the area over the past few years and become an important part of the local community, as well as being a significant employer of local people.
“I will be making my full officer team available to help and assist any potential new operator or developer for this key and strategic site, so that they’re aware of the support we can offer to help make the attraction a local and national success.”
Mr Clark said: “Fantasy Island is an important leisure destination and as we head into one of the busiest months of the year it is very much business as usual.
“Customers should be assured that this will not impact their experience, whether they are visiting the rides, market or one of the shows.
“It’s also important for employees to know that their jobs will not be impacted during these busy summer months and we look forward to working with the team.”
Mr Clark added that it was too premature at present to make any value judgements about the future of the business in the upcoming months, but disclosed that it would be regarded as a going concern and was open for interest from prospective investors.