Willerby overcomes challenges to drive growth as staycations surge

20 June 2022

Holiday homes market leader Willerby has increased turnover and profits as well as achieving a record cash balance, despite disruption to operations.

The company’s latest accounts, for the year to October 2nd, 2021, show how Willerby overcame significant challenges posed by COVID-19 and supply chain interruptions to deliver another year of strong results.

During the year Hull-based Willerby recorded turnover of £129.9m, up from £122.5m in the previous year, an increase of 6%.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) was recorded as £5m. However, the impact of the lost opportunity to manufacture more units due to disruption was £7.1m, meaning the underlying EBITDA was £12.1m, a 22% increase on £9.9m the previous year.
Meanwhile, operating profits grew by 20% to £3m, from £2.5m.

Willerby ended the year with its highest ever cash balance of £25.5m, up from £18.3m the year before, an increase of 40%.

No Government support or additional debt was required during the business year.

Willerby has also responded to the surge in staycations and unprecedented demand for holiday homes, lodges and residential park homes by boosting production capacity and increasing its workforce.

Willerby now has 1,150 employees, an increase of 250 in less than two years. That means an annual additional investment of £8m in staff pay and a major boost to the local economy.

Willerby Group Finance Director Sue Allan said: “These results demonstrate the resilience of the business and our ability to withstand significant pressures.

“It was frustrating that we were unable to operate at full capacity during a period when we were seeing exceptional levels of customer demand.

“Despite operating a very successful COVID test centre and daily testing regime, reflecting our strong focus on staff health and wellbeing, we had significant numbers of employees off work at various periods during the year, having tested positive or due to self-isolating.

“Our suppliers also suffered disruption due to COVID and global supply chain issues around the availability of materials.

“We countered these factors with effective measures, including investing significantly in higher raw materials stock levels to guard against shocks to the supply chain.

“The range of actions delivered increased turnover, profits and cash generation. We’re now in an exceptionally strong position, with a full order book into late 2024 and investments in our capacity, people and products ensuring we’re well placed for continuing, long-term growth.”

Willerby CEO Peter Munk said: “These results are very positive. They are a tribute to the success of our business strategy and the efforts of our people in overcoming challenging circumstances.

“The market we serve is exceptionally strong and all the indications are that this will continue well into the future. Our industry’s fortunes are directly linked to the UK holiday market and there can be no doubt that the staycation is here to stay.

“British holidaymakers have re-discovered the joys of stress-free and sustainable staycations and short breaks in the UK. That has fed through to unprecedented demand for holiday home ownership and bookings at holiday parks across the UK.

“At Willerby these market conditions have given us the confidence to continue to invest in our workforce, talent pipeline, production capacity and product development.”

During the last business year Willerby opened an additional production line, creating more than 100 jobs, and invested £1.5m in research into new products and improved manufacturing processes.

Willerby also created 31 new apprentice roles – the biggest recruitment of young talent in the company’s history. A third of the first intake of recruits were female, reflecting Willerby’s drive to support diversity and inclusion in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Willerby also took further steps during the financial year to reinforce its commitment to sustainability.

In November 2020 a £1.2m biomass heating system became operational, replacing a conventional warm air system. This change reduced use of fossil fuels and delivered an annual saving of 1,000 tonnes of carbon on landfill.

Willerby also introduced a new company vehicle policy to encourage switching to electric and hybrid cars and vans.

In addition, the business operates a cycle to work scheme, which sees Willerby fund the purchase of bikes for its staff who repay the cost through their salaries. Willerby has made an upfront investment of £370,000 in the scheme over the past five years, with more than 600 members of staff taking up the offer to date.

Willerby also continues to support its chosen Charities of the Year. In the past year financial year, staff raised £5,000 for Andy’s Man Club and Hull Animal Welfare Trust. The company match-funded this, meaning the charities benefitted from more than £10,000.

This year, Willerby is supporting Breast Cancer UK and Hull Veterans Support Centre.

Willerby is the UK’s largest holiday homes manufacturer with an unrivalled reputation for design and build quality, technological innovation and customer care.

The business is majority owned by Equistone Partners Europe, a mid-market European private equity house, with a minority stake held by the management team.