Heading for the sun with Sandaya

François GeorgesApax Partners’ recent acquisition, group Sandaya, has ambitious objectives. It plans to double in size and develop in south-European markets by 2021. Sandaya’s CEO François Georges tells us of his strategy to attract tourists in France and Spain.

 

Where will Sandaya be in five years?

Let’s first talk about where we are now! Sandaya operates 11 large 4- and 5-star campsites on the French coast and the Spanish Costa Brava. Overall we have a capacity to host 4,000 campsites. Our aim is 10 000 campsites by 2021 and, why not, to become one of the top three in the French, thus European, market.

 

Have you already identified potential acquisitions?

Of course, we are actively seeking out potential acquisitions. We are looking in the south-west of France, in areas such as Charente-Maritime, Landes, the Basque Country, as well as the Côte Languedocienne and Côte d’Azur. Overseas, we will focus particularly on Costa Brava, then South of Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Italy and Greece. All I can tell you at this stage is that we have identified a dozen sites and that negotiations are underway. Our objective for 2017 is to open four new locations.

 

What are your development priorities?

We have many! First we want to improve our offering and customer experience (welcome, unusual accommodations, continually creative solutions, etc.). We have already started to see our ratings go up on leading sites such as TripAdvisor and Zoover. We also intend to step up our sales efforts, in particular in countries such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, where almost 40% of our customers reside. For this, we plan to develop partnerships and open representative offices. Finally – and this relates to sales – we plan to better promote our campsites and Sandaya online, thus securing customer loyalty to our brand.

 

Why did you choose Apax Partners?

I have to admit that at first we, the “lowly minority shareholders” were somewhat intimidated by the idea of working with a fund as prestigious as Apax Partners! But upon meeting their team, trust relationships were established, and we were taken with their high standards and their integrity. During the due diligence period and the sales process, our first impressions were confirmed. We are now excited to work with them, in particular on our future acquisitions.

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