Nottinghamshire run Center Parcs is a giant of the lesiure and tourism industries
IT was in 1987 that the "villa in the forest" concept, which originated in the Netherlands, was imported to the UK with the opening of Center Parcs' first UK holiday village in Sherwood Forest.Today, it's one of the UK's largest leisure industry businesses with five holiday villages across the country and a turnover in the region of £420m.
It's also is one of Nottinghamshire's largest companies. In 2015, it was ranked in the Nottingham Post's Top 200 Companies magazine as the company with the 12th largest turnover in the county.
With 200 staff at its headquarters in New Ollerton and 1,500 at the Sherwood Forest holiday village, it's a significant private sector employer locally and a company upon which many from the local supply chain relies.
With more than two million visitors each year, it's Center Parcs' popularity among young families which ensures guests continue to return year after year.
Seventy five percent of visitors are families, while the other 25 percent are mostly couples.
"This is a family holiday offer," says CEO Martin Dalby. "We cater very much for pre-school families with children under five. They are a big part of our overall guest base – because they are not impacted by school term restrictions and equally it's a safe, great place for them to come.
"The children learn to swim and ride their bikes here. It's an easy holiday when you have young children."
Martin is surely one of the longest serving in the leisure industry. With 16 years service as chief executive under his belt, his name is very much synonymous with the Center Parcs brand.
So much so that he is now even the subject of school examinations.
Mid-way through this interview a waiter at the restaurant in which we met explains that he had recently answered a 15 mark question on Martin in his A-level business studies test, specifically about him being a "culture carrier".
"I wouldn't mind a copy of that," Martin joked.
But overseeing the company's five holiday villages at Sherwood Forest, Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, Whinfell Forest near Penrith and Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire, continues to keep him busy.
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