Center Parcs Ireland to cost millions more thanks to Brexit

Longford Forest holiday village to go ahead though fall in sterling could add €35m to costs

Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby  with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor at the Longford site. The holiday village will take two years to build, and will open in 2019 with the creation of 1,750 jobs. Photograph: Jason Clarke

Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor at the Longford site. The holiday village will take two years to build, and will open in 2019 with the creation of 1,750 jobs. Photograph: Jason Clarke

 

The fallout from the Brexit vote could add more than €30 million to the cost of building Center Parcs in Co Longford, the developer has said.

Construction of the holiday village, initially estimated at €233 million, will start next spring, Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said.

Center Parcs is a UK-based company and the 15 per cent fall in sterling against the euro following Brexit means the finance to be raised to build Longford Forest, outside Ballymahon, will be more expensive, the company said. The sterling fall since the Brexit vote has added a potential €35 million to the cost of the project.

Speaking at a community day in Ballymahon, Mr Dalby said Brexit will not impact the Irish project. He pointed out that, while the construction costs will be higher if sterling remains weak, revenues and profits from the venture (once it is up and running) will be in euro.

“From a construction point of view the cost . . . increases,” he said. “The profits we will make on the opening of the site will be worth more to us. In the longer run the returns don’t really change. It’s a long-term investment.”

Mr Dalby said the company is talking to a number of UK and Irish banks to raise the funds to build the Longford holiday centre. “I don’t envisage any issues. It’s part of what we do.”

Center Parcs is to host a business and enterprise workshop in November with potentially interested businesses and construction companies.

He said it will take two years to build, starting next spring, with an opening in either spring or summer 2019.

The venture will involve 750 jobs at the construction phase and 1,000 full-time jobs when up and running. Mr Dalby said the company was delighted planning permission for the venture, granted in the summer by An Bord Pleanála, had taken just 18 months.

Its venture at Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire was delayed by planning objections for five years and it eventually went to a public inquiry. It took eight years to build.

Mr Dalby defended the cost of holidays in Center Parcs which can run into thousands of euro for a five-day family break at peak times.

He said the cost of holidays at Longford Forest will be based on the cost of alternative holidays in Ireland. Center Parcs is looking at the cost of family hotels.

“We believe the prices we are talking about will be pretty much in line with what families might pay for the same kind of holiday elsewhere,” he said. “You’ve got to price it to the Irish market, or else you will not get any customers.”

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor, local TDs and councillors attended the briefing. Ms Mitchell O’Connor said the Longford Forest development will be “transformative” for the midlands and a major driver of jobs locally.