As sales of motorhomes and campervans have boomed, so some customers have experienced longer than usual delays in not only taking delivery of their new models but also in having aftersales maintenance, repair and warranty work carried out. Now dealers and manufacturers are making significant investments to improve the situation.
Many European manufacturers, such as Trigano, the Erwin Hymer Group, Knaus, Carthago and many others, are investing in new or expanded factories to help meet demand. Closer to home we are seeing a similar picture with dealers also making major investments. Leading dealers, Brownhills, Chelston, Motorhome Dealer Group, Richard Baldwin, SMC of Newark and Travelworld are among those announcing development plans that are set to come to fruition this year.
Brownhills, which already operates the largest site in the UK for motorhome sales, is making major enhancements to its current 10.5-acre site in Newark.
“We are indeed making improvements to our site to accommodate the increased level of sales and demand for our workshop,” Marketing Manager, Jenny Collof, explains. “We are erecting a larger valeting bay to allow for the increased number of collections. We are extending our workshop into the old valet bay building and have taken on additional workshop technicians to reduce the lead time when booking into our workshop. We have acquired additional land at the back of our site, for the storage of sold motorhomes.”
Earlier this year Shropshire-based Erwin Hymer Group dealer, Travelworld, announced plans to move to an all-new, purpose-built site. Recently contractors for the dealer, which specialises in the sale and hire of luxury motorhomes, started work at its new site in Stafford and expects to move its operations to Cresswell Park in September. The new site, which is just of junction 14 of the M6, will offer a large customer car park and a dedicated motorhome collection/handover area.
Ross Edwards, Travelworld’s Managing Director, said: “Our current showroom has served us well for a number of years, but as the business has grown we wanted a more central location, with more space and easier access for larger motorhomes. The Creswell Park site fits the bill perfectly and will allow us to give customers the best possible service.”
Meanwhile a £30,000 investment in its workshop facilities means Salop Leisure is now offering a seven-day-a-week aftersales servicing from its premises on the outskirt of Shrewsbury. Salop has a team of 21 workshop staff and claims it’s the largest motorhome accident repair centre in the West Midlands, Cheshire and Wales.
“Customers really appreciate being able to bring in their motorhome on a Saturday or Sunday. Previously, they had to take time off work during the week,” says Tony Bywater, Salop Leisure’s Chairman. “The workshops upgrade has given our staff a much-improved working environment and additional equipment to help them exceed the already high standards of workmanship and customer care that we pride ourselves on.”
Ford campervan specialist, Auto Campers, has also confirmed it is to develop purpose-built premises for the sale of its campervans, along with parent company, Roy Wood Transits. The new site is a mile away from the current premises, just off J10 of the M4. It will include a new showroom, display parking for over 80 vans and campers, office space, workshop and a dedicated handover bay. Work is expected to be completed by late autumn.
Managing Director, Steve Wood said: “We have finally gained planning consent to relocate and build a purpose-built showroom, offices and eight-bay workshop. We take great pride in our innovative campers and complete customer experience, and the new facilities can only enhance that.”
Meanwhile, Richard Baldwin Motorhomes has almost finished building a new service centre adjacent to its retail premises at Halifax. Three Counties Motorhomes, part of the Motorhome Dealer Group operating across Dorset and Hampshire, is negotiating to extend its premises in Poole.
Managing Director, Rob Kirk, said: “With the acquisition of a neighbouring business now complete, exciting plans are being drafted to expand a few key areas of the business. Customer handover and seating areas are the priority together with additional workshop and preparation facilities.”
SMC of Newark is also expanding its showroom and workshops. Work has already started on a new seven-bay workshop, which will be in addition to its existing workshops, which include an accident repair centre, paint booth, accessories fitting, servicing and more.
Sales Director, Alistair Briggs-Price, says it will amount to an investment of some £400,000. “We’re selling more and more motorhomes and we need more and more space. We’re hoping the new service centre will be operating from April. With up to nine bays, it will free up the work we already have on site,” he said.
Other dealers investing in new premises include VW Campersales, which is moving to larger premises near its current location at Burgess Hill, West Sussex. Emm-Bee Motorhomes in Lancashire is also planning a move to new premises on the outskirts of Bury and Chelston Motorhomes in Somerset is working on new buildings housing an accessories store, MoT bay and service centre. Completion is expected by June.