Northamptonshire theme park enters administration

Tue, 16 Jun 2020 | ADMINISTRATION



Wicksteed Park in Kettering, Northamptonshire, which claims to be the oldest theme park on the UK mainland, has entered administration. The theme park was opened in 1921 and was due to celebrate its centenary next year but has succumbed to the financial strain of coronavirus.

The park is owned by the Wicksteed Charitable Trust and run through its subsidiary company Wicksteed Park Limited. The administration, which has resulted in the loss of 115 jobs, is being overseen by Grant Thornton LLP.

In a letter to staff, the administrators said that “the leisure park and events business of the Company has been critically impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and has been unable to trade over its peak summer period. The financial impact of this lack of trading has led to the administration of the company."

Oliver Wicksteed, chairman of the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, said that the business couldn’t have survived in the current climate, adding that the costs of social distancing and reduced capacity would have made re-opening the park in July financially inviable.

Wicksteed also announced that the trust would back a new, smaller company, which had been set up in an attempt to raise sufficient money to keep the park operational until next spring, when it is hoped it will be able to re-open for its centenary.

In its most recent financial report, to the year ending February 28 2019, Wicksteed Park held non-current assets valued at £5.5 million and current assets of £926,062. Its total assets less liabilities at the time were valued at £3.1 million.

In 2018, Wicksteed Charitable Trust was given £2.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In its February 2019 report, Wicksteed Park reported that the trust was supporting it through cash flow loans and that it had seen two loss-making years following significant investment into the park’s infrastructure, maintenance and repairs.

Following this investment, the park was looking to pursue a growth strategy, supported by a media campaign, as part of a turnaround plan to be fully implemented during the first quarter 2020/2021. This was supported by a £2.3 million inter-company loan that was being repaid at an annual value of £100,000.


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