Leisure industry to shrink in UK

Roy Page, managing director of Knights Leisure
Roy Page, managing director of Knights Leisure
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The boss of a collapsed Lancashire theme park has predicted Britain’s biggest attractions will be consolidated in the coming years.

Roy Page, managing director of Knight’s Leisure which ran Camelot at Charnock Richard, near Chorley, said he expected only “eight or ten” major attractions to survive the spending slowdown.

He predicted Blackpool, led by the resort’s pleasure beach, would continue to be one of the leading lights in the industry.

The entrepreneur announced plans to shut Camelot after nearly three decades in business earlier this month, citing falling visitor numbers.

Mr Page said: “There is still a great future for the country’s leisure industry, I have no doubt about that.

“I think it will consolidate itself into eight or ten major theme parks across the country but it will continue to thrive.”

He said the emergence of major out-of-town shopping centres, including the Trafford Centre, had created a “new dimension” for the industry which had drawn away visitors to traditional attractions.

The businessman said: “People would rather spend a day hitting the shops and maybe grabbing lunch and a film at one of these shopping malls than going to a theme park.

“That is just the way leisure has developed in recent years, but there will always be a place for a traditional day out somewhere like Blackpool.

“It is for this reason that the investment in Blackpool is so important.”

Mr Page, who lives in Poulton-le-Fylde, said he would wind down the operations of Camelot before focusing on a number of non-executive roles he holds in leisure companies across the country.

The 140-acre site was bought by the Carlisle-based Story Group after it went into administration three years ago, and it appointed Knight’s Leisure to run the park.

For a full interview with Roy Page, see your lepbusinessweek supplement in Tuesday’s Evening Post.