The boss of Pure Cottages Group says the ambitious Cumbrian-headquartered luxury holiday home rental company is on a “stronger footing” for further growth following its acquisition by Sykes Holiday Cottages.

Paul Liddell, founder and chief executive of Pure Cottages Group (PCG) – best known for the successful Lakelovers and Heart of the Lakes brands – said he was bullish about the future for the Windermere-based venture under its new owners.

Sykes Holiday Cottages, the UK’s leading independent holiday home provider, has agreed a deal to acquire PCG from mid-market private equity investors LDC for an undisclosed sum.

The deal marks another significant milestone on PCG’s dramatic rise, which has been backed by the “financial firepower” of LDC over the past two years.

PCG was created in 2017 following a management buy-out facilitated by LDC and partnership between Lakelovers and Heart of the Lakes, and quickly grew with the acquisition of Cotswolds-based Character Cottage Holidays and Lake District Lodge Holidays in the following year.

Its acquisition of John Bray Cornish Holidays in 2019 made PCG the sixth largest holiday cottage lettings agency in the UK.

PCG’s brands – which also includes cleaning business, Maid in the Cotswolds – will now join other regional operations owned by Chester-based Sykes, such as Cornish Cottage Holidays, Helpful Holidays and Menai Holidays.

PCG manages over 1,500 holiday homes throughout Cumbria, Cornwall and the Cotswolds, employing more than 100 staff.

Mr Liddell said: “LDC’s investment and support gave us the confidence, expertise and financial firepower to pursue an ambitious acquisitive growth strategy.

“We added complementary property rental providers to our roster incrementally, delivering a sustainable programme of expansion that limited risk and encouraged growth.

“We’re now on an even stronger footing as we begin the next stage of our growth journey with Sykes Holiday Cottages.”

Speaking to in-Cumbria magazine in July, Mr Liddell said PCG’s growth had been driven by a desire to increase the quality of its stock and customer service in beautiful locations to capitalise on the growing trend for “staycations”.

Support from LDC – a subsidiary of Lloyds Baking Group with a strong pedigree in supporting travel and leisure businesses – helped fund a frantic 18-month flurry of acquisitions by PCG.

Its rapid growth was recognised by the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, which handed it the North West Mid-market Management Team of the Year Award last year.

The deal with Sykes will bring an end to LDC’s involvement in PCG – which was also shortlisted in the Best Tourism and Hospitality Business category at the in-Cumbria Business Awards 2019.

Its director Aziz Ul-Haq said: “Working in partnership with the team to achieve this ambition has been extremely rewarding.

“Considering the firm’s scalable proposition, commitment to customer service and success in a competitive local market mean, we knew it was well positioned to thrive across the UK.

“As the business has grown, Paul and the team have retained the focus on quality that its customers know and trust. We wish them the best of luck with the next stage of their journey.

The acquisition comes hot on the heels of a record year for Sykes.

In 2019 sales rose to £68 million and profits to £20m while the number of bookings increased 26 per cent year-on-year. It employs more that 600 people across 16 offices across the UK.

Graham Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: “The Pure Cottages Group is well established in some of the UK’s most popular holiday hotspots, so the deal bolsters our range of premium holiday homes in Cumbria, Cornwall and the Cotswolds.

“With the team at Pure Cottages on board, we’re able to give our customers even greater choice alongside local expertise.

“By continuing to invest in the business and grow our family of brands, we’re also supporting the long-term success of each holiday let for its owner.”

Sykes Holiday Cottages was advised by Springboard Corporate Finance and Hill Dickinson for the acquisition.

LDC and PCG shareholders were advised by KPMG’s Corporate Finance and Transaction Services team along with DLA.