Visit to Auto Trail.

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I was lucky enough this week to be included on a visit to the new Auto Trail factory in Grimsby. Part of the all powerful Trigano Group this factory produces Tribute van conversions and Auto Trail coach builts in a modern, light and well laid out environment. As we all know, Trigano encourages brands to keep their very strong individual identities but the sheer size of the group must make their central purchasing operation based in Paris for the big components such as the power train a serious force to be reckoned with.

It was an extremely good visit and the Auto Trail management team was generous with its time answering literally hundreds of questions very openly indeed. On the day we were there we saw motorhomes being built for the UK, Australian and New Zealand markets. 

And what one thing most stuck in my mind? Care and attention to detail by everyone involved.  And maybe one unexpected fact? Like most motorhome manufacturers, Auto Trail has eliminated wood from the structural components but continues to build nearly all its own furniture. Waste timber is converted to pellets which feed a biomass boiler making the factory self sufficient for heating and hot water – coupled with a rain water collection system dramatically reducing fresh water consumption.

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews

Sunshine, blue skies and a super site. Anything else needed?

Tags

, , , , , , ,


Am spending time at the Caravan and Motorhome Club site in Peterborough – Ferry Meadows – and I’m enjoying super weather, the country park next door and, for me, the restored seven and a half miles long Nene Valley Railway with one of the stations actually at Ferry Meadows. 

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews

The Bailey Arctic Adventure team return home. 

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So the Arctic Adventure team has returned home. It was such fun following the group all the way from Millbrook to the Arctic Circle in Finland and back home again. Lee Davey, Martin Dorey, Nigel Hutson, John Rawlings and of course Bailey Mastermind Simon Howard (Marketing Director, Bailey of Bristol), together with a supporting cast. And all done in association with The Caravan and Motorhome Club

There were many high spots for us Groupies but watching the team drive across the Oresund Bridge from Sweden into Denmark was certainly one of them for me as a fan of the TV drama series The Bridge. Also memorable were Martin Dorey’s amazing skills at conjuring up meals under less than ideal circumstances. Artistic Creativity Award went to the photo of the Thetford toilet cassette in the foreground of a stupendous snowy arctic scene. 

There was of course a very serious purpose to the venture which were the cold weather tests carried out by Millbrook’s operation in Finland; insulation materials and heating systems are getting ever more advanced and they are tested under rigorous climate conditions reproduced in test centres in the UK – but there is no substitute for a gruelling long haul run in the coldest possible conditions encountered in the Arctic.

It was fun following the trip; it must have been some experience to have been actually part of the trip.

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews

Ypres 

Tags

, , , , , ,


I was talking to a fellow Caravan and Motorhome Club friend the other day and remarked that I am more of a tourer than a rallyer to which she rather tartly remarked “Well, Christopher, that’s your loss then.” That could be but I think I am likely to stick with my touring and this week has been a case in point.

A few days came free in the diary after an extremely serious bout of man flu which required a great deal of help and TLC to get me through – believe me it was touch and go. 

For some time I have been wanting to visit a couple of the peace parks built near Ypres post WW1 and also see Prowse Point where the famous Christmas Day football match was played and where a faithful reconstruction of the trenches shows that just a few metres separated the opposing forces. Disapproved of by the generals at the time, it has become something of a focal point.

When in Ypres I usually drive the clearly signed Poppy Trail coming across all sorts of interesting history. Thursday night’s attendance at the daily Menin Gate ceremony was primarily attended by children many of whom were on school trips from the UK so that future generations never forget.

Whilst I may not be much of a rallyer, there can scarcely be a better way of touring the Somme battlefields than in a motorhome. 

Christopher Macgowan
@motorhomenews

Visitors to CCM Show soar in 2017.

Tags

, , , , , , ,


SOURCE: CARAVAN TIMES

Written by Tom Leaning.

Consistent national media coverage reflected the interest caravans, camping and motorhomes have around the country.

 

The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2017 finished on 26 February with over 94,000 visitors through its doors: 7,023 more than 2016. The weekend peaked with 25,349 visiting the show on Saturday and over 45,000 visitors attending across the two days of the weekend.

The show’s media coverage reflected the nation’s interest in caravans, camping and motorhomes, with Radio 2’s Chris Evans championing the event during last week’s breakfast show, and ITV’s This Morning presenting a range of products on London’s South Bank during its live broadcast.

Despite midweek gales disrupting roads and public transport in the Midlands, exhibitors still reported strong sales figures from the event. Director of Sales and Marketing for Auto-Trail, Scott Stephens reported that “show sales have highlighted how many customers are entering into motorhoming which is a great sign for the industry on the whole.” The announcement of a re-brand by The Caravan Club to The Caravan and Motorhome Club – which was broadcast through a Facebook Live RSS Stream by CaravanTimes – also reflected the growth in motorhome ownership.

The caravan industry also confirmed a positive result. Unveiling a one-off Joules-designed touring caravan, Lunar’s UK Sales Director, Lee Roberts said that he saw “good footfall throughout the show, complemented by a great buying audience, making this February’s show the best yet.” The Coachman Caravan company reported an increase of 22 per cent in retail sales compared to the previous year. Elliot Hibbs, Managing Director said “2017 has been positive for the industry as a whole and we have enjoyed an increase in demand for our product range.”

Swift showed its S-Pod 4 holiday lodge for the first time and reported strong interest. Nick Page, Group Commercial Director commented that “this has been our most successful February show for years with retail sales increasing by 26 per cent on touring caravans and 34 per cent on motorhomes.”

Launches included the Sonic Supreme 810SC by Adria. Managing Director, Slavica Sterk said: “The show has strengthened Adria’s position in the market,” suggesting that while products are not traditionally launched at the February show, overall public response surpassed expectations.

Omar Park and Leisure Homes unveiled the Wessex Hideaway lodge and were very pleased at the general interest across its lodges. Peter Berwick, the Group Sales and Design Director said that the show is “an opportunity to showcase top end models across the Wessex and Omar brands and gives us the chance to get valuable feedback from customers.”

Camping equipment brand Vango created a great buzz in Hall 5 thanks to the AirBeam Challenge, letting members of the public race against the clock to inflate a full sized tent. Vango saw record sales again at the show, with the Kela II DriveAway Awning and Inspire 800XXL eight-berth tent leading the way. Ivan Davies, Account Manager said that “the show really launches our year.”

“The February show’s attendance endorses the optimistic outlook for our industry, which continues to grow,” said John Lally, CEO – NCC Events Ltd. “We are also pleased to see that the demographic of those attending the show continues to diversify, with engagement from those new to the industry.”

A whole host of celebrities took to the Discovery Theatre stage throughout the show. Appearances included Ben Fogle, Barney Harwood, Kate Humble, Julia Bradbury and Sam Quek. Live cookery demonstrations from Monica Rivron, Selasi Gbormittah, Welsh chefs Mike Bates and Colin Gray also graced the stage.

Displays included the Lego® caravan, which featured in a Facebook Live RSS stream organised by Guinness World Records, and the highly popular Dog Agility arena. Additional attractions for visiting families included trampolines in the Bounce Zone, bushcraft workshops, climbing wall, artificial caving and a virtual reality of Europe’s longest zip wire in the North Wales LIVE area, and a Woodland Assault Course in partnership with The Woodland Trust.

The Motorhome and Caravan Show is at the NEC from 17 to 22 October 2017 and The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show returns 20 to 25 February 2018.

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews

The Caravan and Motorhome Club.

Tags

, , ,


News of the day here at the NEC is the new name for The Caravan Club. Now the Caravan and Motorhome Club reflecting the increasing number of motorhome owners in membership. Coupled with the launch of a very impressive logo, the club now has a smart new image anchored to its all important heritage since 1907. 

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews

Bailey invades the Arctic.

Tags

, , , , , ,

Bailey motorhome and caravans aim for the Arctic Circle.

Bailey will be heading off on its Artic Adventure in a motorhome and two caravans.

To demonstrate the strength and durability of its Alu-Tech construction, Bailey of Bristol is about to embark on another marathon product endurance test. This time the company, in association with The Caravan Club, will be taking an Autograph 75-2 motorhome and two caravans on an epic 5,000-mile journey to the Arctic Circle.

The Bailey Arctic Adventure will set off from the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, travel through Europe across the Arctic Circle to the Millbrook Winter Test Centre in Ivalo, Northern Finland and then back.

The journey will take 16 days and the team will visit 12 countries in the process taking in some of Europe’s most iconic locations including the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the official home town of Santa Claus at Rovaniemi in Finland, and the Oresund Bridge linking Sweden to Denmark on the way.

Road and weather conditions at this time of year in Scandinavia will be challenging. With temperatures possibly dropping as low as minus 30 degrees centigrade there will be plenty of snow and ice on an already harsh terrain, making driving potentially hazardous.

To combat this, the 2.0 Blue Hdi 160bhp engine of the Autograph 75-2 should be able to take this journey in its stride, said Bailey, especially as the motorhome has been fully winterised, are fitted with winter tyres and supplied with snow chains.

As with all Bailey leisure vehicles the ‘Arctic Adventure’ motorhome and caravans are built using the company’s patented Alu-Tech body shell construction system.

Bailey points out that this award-winning technology creates vehicles that are more robust, more durable and yet lighter than those manufactured using conventional methods and offer greater protection against the elements to keep owners comfortable, safe and secure all year round.

To date over 40,000 Bailey caravans and motorhomes have been built using this method.

The team will be posting daily blogs and social media updates as often as possible via the Bailey and The Caravan Club social media channels details.

Talking about the challenge ahead, Bailey Marketing Director and a member of the ‘Arctic Adventure’ team Simon Howard, said: “After completing the West2East challenge in Australia we wanted to show people the other side of the ‘extreme caravanning coin’. Whilst the road and weather conditions in Northern Finland will be the polar opposite to those we experienced in the Australian Outback, they will be no less challenging.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to show people that if you put your mind to it you really can go anywhere and do anything in a modern leisure vehicle” he added.

Commenting on The Caravan Club’s involvement Director General Nick Lomas said: “The Caravan Club is delighted to support the ‘Arctic Adventure’ as it highlights what fantastic adventures you can have in a caravan or a motorhome. Not everybody can travel to the Arctic Circle but we hope it inspires people to have their own adventures, whether it be travelling for 10 miles, 100 miles or a thousand miles.”

You can follow regular updates on the team’s progress on the Bailey of Bristol Twitter @BaileyofBristol (#ArcticAdventure) and as well as the new Bailey of Bristol Facebook page.

 

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews

British industry proving irresistible to German and French giants.

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,


Written by John Rawlings of Rawlings Communications Ltd.

Rawlings Communications

The strong market for caravans and motorhomes in the UK is obviously on the radar of the big French and German manufacturing groups, with news of two interesting acquisitions already announced this year. Will there be more?

The big news last week was that Europe’s largest manufacturer of caravans and motorhomes, the mighty Erwin Hymer Group, which last year had a turnover of more than 1.9 billion Euros, bought the UK’s Explorer Group Ltd, which owns and manufactures the well known Buccaneer, Elddis and Compass brands here.

This follows last month’s news that the French Trigano Group (another multiple European caravan and motorhome brand owner, and has already invested in a new factory for its UK subsidiary, Auto-Trail) bought a majority shareholding in the British motorhome brand Auto-Sleepers and its retail network, Marquis Leisure.

Interesting times.

I am sure that becoming part of the Erwin Hymer Group has to be good news for the The Explorer Group and its 400 employees up in the North East, but will we see more British caravan and motorhome brands being snapped up by overseas or global brands?

Although it has well established UK brands, the Explorer Group is far from being a market leader in the UK, having trailed behind the UK’s two biggest caravan and motorhome manufacturers, The Swift Group and Bailey of Bristol (both still privately owned), for many years. The new investment and purchasing power of The Explorer Group’s new parent company will surely work in its favour and give it valuable extra security for the years ahead.

We will have to wait (with much interest) to see if its new German owners implement any changes to product quality, specifications and production. The purchase price has not been disclosed, but the Erwin Hymer Group must have expectations for a reasonable return on investment, and it shows the significance of the UK caravan and motorhome market on a European and global stage. Surely that’s something we should be proud of?

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews

Erwin Hymer acquires Explorer Group.

Tags

, , ,


Erwin Hymer Group acquires The Explorer Group Ltd., one of the leading manufacturers of motorhomes and caravans in the UK.

 

  The strategic acquisition strengthens the presence of the Erwin Hymer Group in the second largest European market.  The Erwin Hymer Group is placing its trust in the existing management team of The Explorer Group Ltd.  The Explorer Group Ltd. will become the Erwin Hymer Group UK Ltd.  Once the integration is complete, the sales and marketing activities of all EHG brands will be brought together under the umbrella of the Erwin Hymer Group UK Ltd.  The closing date for the transaction is February 8, 2017.

 

Bad Waldsee (Germany), Consett, County Durham (UK), February 8, 2017 – The Erwin Hymer Group, Europe’s largest manufacturer of motorhomes and caravans, and the Constantine Group PLC, an investment company with its registered office near London (UK), have agreed that the Erwin Hymer Group will acquire 100% of the shares of The Explorer Group Ltd., including all of its subsidiaries.

 

After the closing, the name of the company will be Erwin Hymer Group UK Ltd. The Managing Director of Erwin Hymer Group UK Ltd. will be Robert Quine, formerly the Managing Director of The Explorer Group Ltd. 

 

The Explorer Group – On the UK market since 1964 The Explorer Group is a leading UK manufacturer of motorhomes and caravans with its registered office in Consett, near Newcastle in the north of England. Founded in the mid-1960s, the company has 400 employees and is predominantly active in the UK. With the Buccaneer, Compass, Elddis, and Xplore brands, the company has been able to steadily increase its share of the UK market in recent years. With a motorhome market share of 11% and a touring caravan market share of 17%, The Explorer Group is one of the three leading manufacturers in the UK.

 

“Since 2012, our SoLiD construction method has revolutionised the production process and resulted in a product that is stronger, lighter, and free from water ingress,” says Rob Quine. “Explorer has now invested over eight years into the development of SoLiD. This makes us the only provider of fully structurally bonded caravans and motorhomes in the UK.” The successful launch of SoLiD has resulted in the sales volumes doubling in the past eight years. 

 

  

The Explorer Group Ltd’s management has excellent knowledge of the British market and is therefore the perfect partner for the Erwin Hymer Group to further expand its position in the UK. The sales and marketing activities of all EHG brands in the UK will be brought together under the umbrella of the Erwin Hymer Group UK Ltd.

 

The Erwin Hymer Group is already represented in the United Kingdom today by the Bürstner, Carado, Dethleffs, Eriba, Hymer, Laika, Niesmann+Bischoff, and Sunlight brands. The new Erwin Hymer Group UK Ltd. provides an ideal starting point to strengthen and further expand market presence with a local manufacturing base. 

 

“By acquiring The Explorer Group Ltd., we are strengthening our involvement in the UK. As the leading European manufacturer, we see strategic opportunities in the second largest European caravanning market,” says Martin Brandt, CEO of Erwin Hymer Group AG & Co.KG. “Our aim is to further expand our strong position in Europe and to become a global supplier of high-quality motorhomes and caravans.”

 

For Joerg Reithmeier, Member of the Managing Board of the Erwin Hymer Group and responsible for the Caravan segment, the acquisition of Explorer is another component in implementing the caravan strategy: “By taking this step, we’re positioning ourselves as the leading manufacturer of premium caravans in Europe.”

 

“We’re all really looking forward to becoming part of the Erwin Hymer Group,” says Rob Quine, Managing Director of The Explorer Group Ltd. “It is fantastic that a successful organisation like the Erwin Hymer Group is investing in our future. As a new member of the Erwin Hymer Group, we will have access to unique know-how and expertise. We will exploit this strategic opportunity to create permanent added value for our customers.”

 

Christopher Macgowan

@motorhomenews