Written by John Rawlings of Rawlings Communications Ltd.
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.
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?