How IGEL and Citrix are supporting an ambitious M&A growth strategy at Park Holidays UK
How does a fast growing, acquisitive company with multiple locations across the UK ensure it is able to integrate new acquisitions quickly and easily?
The answer is through a combination of cloud-based applications, the Citrix digital workspace platform and IGEL OS-powered endpoints managed and remotely controlled through the IGEL Universal Management Suite (UMS).
Park Holidays UK is one of the largest static caravan, holiday home and lodge holiday operators in the country, with 54 locations from Cornwall to Scotland.
Following a record year in 2021, with annual revenues of £228 million and EBITDA of £79.6 million, the company was formally acquired by Sun Communities, Inc. in April for £950 million – a 162% rise in the value of the business since Intermediate Capital Group plc paid £362 million for it in 2016.
Park Holidays has prospered through a combination of organic growth and an ambitious M&A strategy that in the last two years alone has seen it acquire Bridge Leisure, Bodmin Holiday Park and Park Leisure.
The company prides itself on the speed and efficiency with which it integrates its acquisitions. According to Park Holidays UK IT Director Michael Procyshyn this is a direct result of the company’s IT choices.
“One of the key strengths of Park Holidays UK is our IT. Our networking, infrastructure and applications are robust, reliable and all the same – we don’t dual run anything as doing so just adds complexity.
“We’ve taken a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to the desktop. In other words, we have one uniform system across the company so that when new parks are acquired, we just drop in Citrix and IGEL to rapidly deploy desktop services. It allows us to scale up our infrastructure and systems quickly and cost effectively, with the joint solution a real enabler for growth.”
- 1 Native support for cloud-based applications.
- 2 Fast staff onboarding.
- 3 Enhanced security.
- 4 Lower cost and simplified management.
- 5 Ability for staff to easily work across sites. 6 Video conferencing via Microsoft Teams
- 6 Video conferencing via Microsoft Teams
Procyshyn adds: “We know of one competitor who took two years to integrate some of their acquisitions. When we purchased Bridge Leisure, it took us just four weeks to migrate the nine sites over and roll out access to our systems whilst onboarding staff.”
Park Holidays UK is a long-term user of VDI and thin client technology. It first deployed a combined IGEL and Citrix solution 10 years ago to address bandwidth issues at some sites and to move away from unreliable and high maintenance PCs, making it quicker and easier to deploy, configure, manage and support a standardised set of endpoints.
In recent years, Park Holidays UK has modernised its entire IT environment, investing in new desktops, server virtualisation, SAN storage and an MPLS-based Wide Area Network to interconnect all its holiday park sites.
In 2019, it shifted wholesale to a Microsoft-based cloud environment, moving IT applications and its Avaya phone system to the cloud, running in Microsoft Azure, while also implementing Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 Business Central, with Elite Parks software – built on Dynamics 365 – used as the company’s ERP system.
Desktop applications are standardised and accessed through Citrix and IGEL hardware supplied by IGEL Velocity Partner Ventrus Networks. This enables staff to work across multiple sites, effortlessly accessing corporate applications running in the cloud and their own folders and files from any location. It also makes it much easier for Park Holidays UK to resource its business from a staffing perspective, especially during peak holiday times.
IGEL Universal Management Suite (UMS) is used to remotely control the whole distributed environment, such that only six technical staff are needed to manage an IGEL estate of 500 endpoints and provide technical support to all employees who use them.
Security is server-based and managed centrally, with IGEL endpoints locked down so that staff can’t amend the master desktop image or load applications locally.
Next up, Park Holidays UK is considering utilising the native power of IGEL endpoints running IGEL OS to make video conferencing available to all staff via Microsoft Teams. Evaluation trials are currently underway, but what Procyshyn does not envisage, especially given Park Holidays UK’s M&A growth strategy, is any change in its fundamental approach to IT.
“When we last reviewed our desktop approach, we concluded that moving away from IGEL’s technology to laptops or PCs would be cost-prohibitive. IGEL and Citrix help our rapid expansion plans because we know we can deploy endpoints simply and painlessly,” he explains.