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Teamwork – Wollens and some of the most well-known names in Torbay’s business world – played a major role in securing the sale of Torquay’s world-famous Kents Cavern within a matter of weeks.

The photograph shows Matt Willmott, Director – PKF Francis Clark, Dominic Hollingsworth, Partner – Wollens, Nick Powe, Kents Cavern, Chris Hart, Chief Executive – Wollens, Matt Bettesworth, Managing Director – Bettesworths and Ashley Bevans, Partner – Wollens. 

The freehold property, caves and business were marketed by Bettesworths Chartered Surveyors and commercial agents at a guide price of between £2million and £2.5million. The sale was launched in mid-May and after immediate significant interest from around the world, was completed in early August.

The corporate and legal team from Wollens worked with Bettesworths as a soon as Bodmin Jail owners Tudor Hotels put their name forward and secured the eventual deal with cave owners Nick and Sheena Powe. PKF Francis Clark were the accountants.

Dominic Hollingsworth, who heads up the Wollens’ South Devon Corporate team based at The Terrace in Torquay, said: “We were delighted to have acted for the Powe family on the sale of Kents Cavern. Not only is it one of the most iconic attractions in the South West but it had remained under the stewardship of the Powe family since 1903. We completed the sale in under six weeks which is a testimony to the Wollens team of Ashley Bevans, Ellie Temple and Sophia Goodall and the work they put in.  One of the highlights was trying to explain to the buyer’s solicitor that the property consisted mainly of pre-historic subterranean caves.”

Matt Bettesworth, director of Bettesworths and agent for the sale, said: “We were delighted to be instructed to sell this totally unique business and were blown away by the response to our marketing. We would like to take this opportunity to wish Nick and Sheena Powe all the very best for the future and hope they take a well-earned rest after all their hard work and dedication at Kents Cavern. We would also like to congratulate Tudor Hotels and wish them every success with the caves. Knowing their track record, their ownership will undoubtedly benefit Kents Cavern and we look forward to hearing their plans for the attraction in due course.”

The prehistoric caves, which have been open to the public since the 19th century, have been owned by the same Powe family since 1903, when Nick Powe’s great-grandfather acquired the site.

The caves are an essential part of the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark, which celebrates the geological heritage of the area.

Kents Cavern, one of the most important Stone Age sites in Europe, was formed over 2.5 million years ago. It is made up of an extensive system of caves once occupied by prehistoric humans and Ice Age animals. Since the discovery of the caves over 80,000 stone age artefacts have been found including a prehistoric upper jawbone fragment, believed to be the oldest anatomically modern human fossil yet discovered in north western Europe.

The caves have attracted in excess of 10 million visitors from all over the world.

The business was offered to the market with a strong financial performance record, a dedicated and experienced team of staff, and an established reputation for excellence in customer service. The sale included the underground caverns, woodland trail, visitor centre and restaurant/cafe, car park, surrounding land, and a recently totally refurbished luxury three-bedroom holiday let or owner’s accommodation.

The ‘for sale’ announcement generated a huge wave of publicity and significant interest from investors, entrepreneurs, operators, the cultural heritage sector and businesses in the tourism industry, both locally, regionally and internationally. A sale was agreed within two weeks of the launch of the marketing. The sale was concluded quickly with Dominic Hollingsworth and his team at Wollens acting for the seller and Stuart Hutson at Temple Bright acting for the purchaser.

Rob Cox, CEO of Tudor Hotels, said: “Kents Cavern is a wonderful and unique attraction and we are very excited to continue the amazing work of Nick and Sheena and their family.”

Nick Powe added:  “The family are delighted to have a found an experienced operator to continue caring for the caves, continuing my family’s legacy established over the last 120 years. The new owners will be bringing the Stone Age heritage alive, offering a better visitor-experience, exactly what Kents Cavern needs and what I couldn’t do. I have no doubt the caves, managed by the same excellent team, will go from strength to strength.”

Katrina Vallentine 31

Chris Hart, Wollens Chief Executive and Nick Powe 

The Wollens Company & Commercial team are available to act for businesses across the country and always aim always to add commercial value for clients.

Find out more here : Wollens Solicitors | Commercial & Corporate Services Devon


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