Sales up at caravan builder Coachman despite 'tough market conditions'

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 11 Mar 2019

Sales at Hull caravan builder Coachman rose by more than £3m in 2018, despite “challenging market conditions” in the sector.

The manufacturer, based in Amsterdam Road, currently builds just under 10 per cent of the UK’s touring caravans every year, and employs around 185 people in Hull.

Last year saw Coachman Caravans’ turnover soar from £33m to £36.7m, but its total profits dropped from £1.6m to £1.5m.

In August 2018, 21.5 per cent of Coachman Caravans was acquired by Swedish motor home manufacturer KABE, in a move which will see the pair team up in product development.

Elliot Hibbs, managing director at Coachman, said: “The caravan market had a challenging year in 2018, and the biggest pressure was with currency.

Coachman Caravans last year saw sales rise by £3m (Jack Harland)

“That is why our profit margin was down a little bit. We did however have a full order book and built more than 2,000 caravans last year.

“That boils down to the product being better. We have a focus on quality, and giving the consumer the confidence to invest in a new caravan.”

Coachman Caravans was formed in 1986.

Read more: Plans to build huge caravan park in Withernsea - but residents aren’t happy

The family business built between 800 and 900 caravans in its earlier days, but by 2012/13 had seen this figure rise to 1,400.

Last year, Coachman hit the 2,000 caravan figure for the second year in a row, and is on track to complete the hat-trick in 2019.

Mr Hibbs said of the KABE acquisition last year: “For us it was good partnership. They are a family business like we are, and they approached us because we share a lot of the same values as them.

“It came a little out of the blue for us, but it will enable us to collaborate in product development and purchasing, as well as the exchange of production technology.”

Looking ahead, Mr Hibbs said one of the challenges facing the sector was to build the right number of caravans to meet demand.

“On the back of the warm summer we had in 2018, people will look at purchasing new motor homes,” he said.

“I am very confident, moving forwards, that the caravan sector will have a good few years ahead of it. Now we need to give people that confidence to buy a caravan.”

Read more: Swift Caravans confirms job losses in 'tough trading environment'

Coachman has also recently promoted two senior managers to director positions.

Lee Machin and Ben Parkin have risen through the ranks at the manufacturer, and Emily Fisher has also joined the team as a senior accountant from EY.

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