UK leisure players anticipate continued M&A activity

  • mar. 2007

With 2006 already well under way, there appears to be no sign of
a let-up in the mergers & acquisitions activity across the
sector. That is the overwhelming conclusion of the second major
industry survey commissioned by Livingstone and Leisure Report, the
industry journal to reveal major leisure operators’
predictions for the year ahead. In conjunction with leading
industry body, Business in Sport and Leisure, the survey was sent
out to more than 500 of the leading businesses operating across the

Over the past two years, the leisure industry has been one of the
most active sectors for M&A activity in the UK, fuelled not
only by the desire amongst the leading mid-market private equity
houses and banks to target the sector for new investment, but also
the appetite amongst existing trade players looking to aggressively
pursue a strategy of acquisition-fuelled consolidation. Key survey
statistics include:

  • In 2005, 87% of respondents confirmed that they had completed
    at least one acquisition in the last three years – a 14% increase
    on the result in 2004.
  • 94% of respondents believe that they are going to make either
    the same number or more acquisitions than they did in the preceding
    three years.
  • Respondents were also asked to rank the sector which they felt
    was likely to be most active in M&A terms in 2006. Nearly three
    quarters of respondents put ‘betting and gaming, including
    online’ as their number one choice.
  • Respondents ranked the health and fitness and
    nightclubs/pubs/bars sectors as the second and third most likely
    sectors to see increased activity in the next 12 months.
  • Over 60% of respondents reported that acquisitions were
    difficult to complete at the moment. The most common factor given
    for this was the price expectations of the vendors, which was also
    the commonest reason identified in 2004’s survey (see
  • 75% of all respondents reported that private equity was a
    potential threat to their ability to make acquisitions across a
    wide range of sectors including caravan parks, gaming and betting,
    restaurants and travel.
  • In the current market, trade buyers expect to have to pay
    higher prices to secure deals than they did in 2004. They also
    expect to pay a premium as the deal size increases.

Simon Cope-Thompson, Partner
Tel: 020 7484 4706

Michelle Holford, Analyst
Tel: 020 7484 4715

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