The freehold of the 38-acre zoo near Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, has been sold to a consortium of private investors for an undisclosed sum.
The zoo was sold out of administration by FRP Advisory Trading, advised by Savills as the sales agent.
South Lakes Safari Zoo is situated on the southern edge of the Lake District National Park, just off the A590, which provides access to the M6 motorway and the main Lake District towns to the north.
The site encompasses around 138,000 sq ft of buildings across the 38-acre site and provides more than 60 indoor and outdoor attractions with more than 45 themed features.
The zoo is let to and operated by Cumbria Zoo Company on two leases that will continue under the deal, and generates an income of £500,000 per annum, according to Savills. The leases are due to expire in 2026.
The new owners have prior experience in investing in leisure assets, the consultancy added. They have set up a new entity called the Zoo Investment Company, which now owns the freehold interest of the zoo.
Janette Kemp, chief executive of the company, said: “We are delighted to have acquired this interesting investment. Our investors have a wealth of experience across a number of sectors and with their assistance we are confident in the zoo’s long-term success.”
More than £4m has been invested in the safari park over the past decade, including the purchase of additional land to the east of the main site, which has more than doubled the site area and enabled additional buildings, such as the shop and visitor centre, to be constructed.
A new management team was brought on board in 2017 following publication of an inspectors’ report that raised concerns over high numbers of animal deaths at the park. The company that owned the land went into administration in 2018- although the zoo continued to trade – and the site’s freehold was put on the market last October.
Ian Simpson, head of the leisure and trade team at Savills, said: “The sale of the freehold interest in this property generated interest from a range of investors seeking a more diverse investment than usual.
“The Zoo Investment Company submitted a competitive bid for the freehold interest, which, coupled with the investors’ past experience in leisure properties, made it a natural fit for this investment.”