County Durham caravan makers motoring with 60% lift in sales

The Explorer Group has a strong forward order book after latest accounts show it has boosted turnover to £58.7m

Caravan and motorhome maker The Explorer Group has grown turnover by 60% to £58.7m after launching new products to the market and extending into new export territories.

The Consett-based business, which employs 285 people, suffered during the recession when the depressed retail market was restricting loan finance for purchases of its touring caravans and motorhomes.

As a knock-on effect, the firm’s profits fell into the red to a pre-tax loss of £2.1m in the year to August 31 2012.

Latest accounts for the firm, however, show action taken by the firm has led to signs of recovery, with sales rising from £36.6m to £58.7m in the 16 months to December 31 2013, and the firms losses also narrowed to £200,000.

Operating losses of £2.09m were also shortened to £143,464.

A breakdown of sales shows UK sales account for 94% of total turnover, but sales to the rest of the world soared tenfold, from £258,495 to £2.78m in the 16-month period.

A report accompanying the accounts, filed at Companies House, details how the firm undertook two seasons of product launches during the period under review.

The launches followed a year in which the County Durham company consolidated its operations, in preparation for a major launch of new product ranges, including new construction techniques.

The directors said: “Interest in the company’s new construction method and products has enabled recruitment of new dealers and expansion into new export territories.

“Consequently the business has steadily increased production rates to support increased customer demand.

“The company is well placed to trade competitively in a market which remains uncertain overall.

“The Explorer Group Limited’s increase in market share masks a total market which continues to be weak.

“Credit to consumers and dealers is improving but remains a restriction, particularly to dealers looking to grow and support a larger stock base.

“The company continues its strategy of investing significantly in product innovation and capital equipment, in order that its production processes and portfolio remain competitive.”

The firm said it remains confident it is well placed to manage its opportunities, adding that its products have been well received.

The report added: “The company’s most recent products have been well received by dealers and retail customers, resulting in strong sales and substantial forward orders.”

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