700 jobs to stay in Lowestoft

A DOUBLE boost for the Waveney economy this week has seen more than 700 jobs staying in the area.On Monday the new owner of Hoseasons pledged that jobs are safe at its headquarters at Lowestoft.

A DOUBLE boost for the Waveney economy this week has seen more than 700 jobs staying in the area.

On Monday the new owner of Hoseasons pledged that jobs are safe at its headquarters at Lowestoft.

The following day a Government minister confirmed that the CEFAS fisheries laboratories, which employs more than 500 people, is also planning to stay in the town.

There were fears that it would be forced to move following the collapse of the Waveney Campus development in December. CEFAS, along with Suffolk County Council and Waveney District Council, would have moved to the site beside Lake Lothing.

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Marine and Natural Environment Minister Huw Iranca-Davies said two options being considered were improving the current CEFAS facilities on Kensington Road or building a smaller building on the Waveney Campus site.

The news was warmly welcomed by Waveney District Council and Waveney MP Bob Blizzard.

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Meanwhile, the Hoseasons holiday company has been bought by American travel giant Wyndham Worldwide for �51m in a move that ended weeks of speculation about its future.

Wyndham owns a number of major self-catering brands in the UK, including English Country Cottages and Cottages4you, and operates more than 60,000 holiday properties across Europe.

Announcing the deal on Monday, Ian Ailles, managing director of Wyndham Exchange & Rentals, said it would be business as usual at the Hoseasons HQ in Raglan Road and that the 200-strong workforce had nothing to fear from the change of ownership.

'We see Lowestoft as a great knowledge centre which brings another dimension to the Wyndham business,' he said. 'Hoseasons is a truly fantastic and iconic brand. We'll be looking over time to drive the Hoseasons brand to new heights.'

As both firms sell travel insurance as part of their business, the deal has to be approved by the UK regulator, the Financial Services Authority.

The deal will end a seven-year spell for Hoseasons under the ownership of private equity group HgCapital, which bought it for �40m in 2003.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard welcomed the deal, saying: 'I've spoken to the company and they've given me a commitment to Lowestoft, a commitment to the Hoseasons brand and a commitment to grow the business. On that basis, it has to be a good-news story for Lowestoft.

'It takes the company out of private equity, which means they are more able to invest in expanding the company and improving it.'

Hoseasons chief executive Richard Carrick described the Wyndham deal as a fantastic opportunity. He added: 'You always know with private equity ownership that there's likely to be a sale within five to eight years, and this deal falls in the middle of that, so in some respects it's not great surprise. There are certain advantages to private equity, but the disadvantage is that it's difficult to take a long-term strategic view because you know that in the future there'll be a sale.

'The new owners, Wyndham, have been around for a long time and are one of the world's most successful travel businesses. They've got a commitment to invest further in the Hoseasons brand, which has a great heritage but which may have been held back a little by the lack of the longer-term view.

'It's good news for the brand; it's good news for the staff here and good news for the property owners, because the combined distribution strength of the organisation puts us in an unparalleled position in the travel industry.'

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