Willerby celebrates continued staycations success as turnover tops £200m for first time

05 April 2023

Holiday homes industry leader Willerby has delivered record turnover and profits, buoyed by a structural market change in favour of holidays and short breaks in the UK.

Willerby has posted the best results in the company’s 77-year history, with revenues above £200m for the first time, as the business continues to capitalise on the growing popularity of staycations.

In the company’s latest accounts, for the year to October 1 st , 2022, Willerby recorded turnover of £217m, up 67% from £129.9m the year before.

Operating profits rocketed to £15.1m, a fourfold increase on £3m the previous year, and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) reached £17.2m, growth of 224% on £5.3m the year before.

The business also ended the financial year with a cash balance of £37.6m, up by £12.1m (47%) year on year.

Willerby is the UK’s largest manufacturer of static caravans and lodges – building a third of new units destined for holiday parks – as well as operating a growing residential park homes brand, Willerby Bespoke. Launched in 2018, Willerby Bespoke matured in 2022 to become a profit contributor to the overall business.

The company is at the forefront of an important and growing UK manufacturing industry, which is clustered in Hull and East Yorkshire and employs 20,000 people directly or indirectly within the region.

Willerby’s performance reflects the buoyancy of the staycation market as increasing numbers of consumers shun holidays abroad in favour of reliable, secure and sustainable UK vacations and more frequent short breaks on these shores.

CEO Peter Munk said: “There’s no doubt there has been a structural change in the market since COVID, which we believe will benefit our business and industry over the long term.

“The UK has some of the world’s most stunning locations, currently being showcased to millions of people in Sir David Attenborough’s beautiful BBC series Wild Isles. The appeal of the British countryside and coast has never been greater.

“We’ve also seen very significant institutional investment into the staycation market, especially in the holiday parks sector, and in upgrading facilities at sites across the country.

“That has all fed through to a sustained surge in holiday home ownership and bookings at holiday parks which has, in turn, generated very strong demand for our static caravans, lodges and residential park homes.

“At Willerby, we’re all about our people, products and place – our facilities in Hull, the local community we support and our leading role in our industry, which is rooted in our region.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges we have faced in recent times, from COVID to inflationary pressures, we’re in an exceptionally strong position. We’re at the forefront of a vibrant and growing sector and the investments we’re making are ensuring we’re well placed
for sustained growth.”

Willerby’s full-year results are particularly remarkable as performance in the first half of the year was impacted by pandemic-driven interruptions to raw material supplies and COVID-related staff absences.

The ending of COVID restrictions in February 2022 enabled Willerby to return to normal operations, resulting in a bumper second half of the year.

Willerby now has a 1,150-strong workforce and pumped £35m into the local economy in wages and salaries alone during the financial year.
All Willerby employees are paid a minimum of the Real Living Wage and a new and improved staff bonus scheme introduced during the year meant every staff member received a performance bonus.

Willerby Chief Financial Officer Sue Allan said: “The year was very much a game of two halves.

“For much of the first half of the year, performance continued to be hindered by the impact of COVID restrictions on our own operations and our suppliers. However, once those restrictions ended in late February we were able to move forward and go from strength to strength.

“We’re particularly pleased that employees in every part of the business have shared in this success. It’s a guiding principle of the business that everybody contributes to the company’s success and also benefits from it.

“We’re also proud of the commitments we continue to make to R&D, training and development, and skills. These are investments in the business and also the local community and economy that we’re an important part of.”

During the financial year Willerby made significant investments in leadership training and bringing through the next generation of entry level talent.

Willerby launched two new leadership programmes and made a raft of internal promotions in a reorganisation of its senior team announced in October 2022. The leadership team now has an equal number of male and female members – an exceptional example of gender balance in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

In September 2022 the company created 15 new apprenticeships, following recruitment of more than 30 apprentices the previous year. The latest apprentices are across a wide range of functions, such as in marketing, design, IT and business administration, in addition to traditional trades-based roles.

During the financial year £1.3m was invested in research and development of new products and improved manufacturing processes, including upgrading the Willerby range to the company’s new sustainability specification, the Willerby GreEN Standard.

Willerby is prioritising sustainability across all its operations, including shifting to biomass energy to heat its manufacturing facilities. The company has also worked with partners to create a sustainable end-to-end supply chain, using local suppliers and recycled materials wherever possible.

More than two thirds of Willerby’s fleet now comprises all-electric or hybrid vehicles, following the introduction of a new company vehicle policy in 2021. Willerby has extended its network of electric vehicle charging stations and hundreds of staff have benefited from the company’s cycle to work scheme since it was introduced.

The company also continues to support its chosen Charities of the Year. In the past financial year, staff raised more than £7,000 for Breast Cancer UK and support for veterans in Hull. Willerby match-funded these sums, meaning the good causes received over £14,000 between them.

Willerby’s status as the UK’s holiday homes market leader is underpinned by an industry- leading reputation for quality, design, innovation, product range and commitment to sustainability. The business is majority owned by independent investment house Equistone Partners Europe, with a minority stake held by the management team.