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Gearing up to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year are Bourne Leisure, better known to caravanners for their chain of Haven Holidays seaside leisure parks.
Peter Harris and David Allen, who are still board members, started the operation when they purchased Alberta Caravan Park in Whitstable, Kent, in 1964.  With John Cook who, sadly, died last year, they floated their company on the London stock exchange in 1972.
Three years later the company was bought by the Rank Group for £20 million.
Meanwhile, Harris, Allen and Cook had started all over again with a new set of ten holiday parks. This they then expanded in 2000 by buying Rank’s holiday business. That included Haven Holidays and brought their total number of parks to 76.
The deal cost £700 million and was partly funded by private equity firms. Within a few years, however, so successful was the venture that these three entrepreneurs had been able to buy them out.
Rationalisation followed, with smaller sites being sold, leaving Bourne with the 35 parks in England, Scotland and Wales they have today.
Key to Bourne’s success was the recognition that what people wanted were well-equipped parks in attractive surroundings where they could buy and enjoy their own holiday homes.
High standards were set. So, for example, all 35 parks have David Bellamy conservation awards, mostly to gold standard.
A gold standard is the formula Bourne follow today, with investment in the parks topping £40 million annually. It has led to constant upgrading, with a succession of new restaurants, owners’ lounges, swimming pools, golf courses and other developments designed to enhance the holiday-home experience.
More information from www.havenholidayhomes.com


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