New production line and showground lead to 100 more new jobs at Willerby

A Hull-based caravan manufacturer is recruiting yet more workers amid a post-lockdown boom for the industry.

Willerby is to open a new production line at its factory in Hull, creating 100 new jobs, in what is its 75th anniversary year.

It will take the workforce in the company to more than 1,000 staff, having added a similar numbr over the winter season.

A third showground – a £750,000 investment completing at Southport on the North West coast – aims to ensure orders remain buoyant. It is due to open on Monday.

A company spokesman said: “The pandemic has meant we have all been through an incredibly difficult period, but at Willerby we are emerging from it stronger than ever.

“We are experiencing exceptionally strong sales, driven by the staycation boom, and our order book is already full until mid-2022.

“We have a workforce of around 1,000 in Hull, which includes almost 100 colleagues taken on since November in response to buoyant sales.

“We’ve also decided to open a new production line, in addition to our four existing production lines, to meet the unprecedented demand. This will create more than 100 additional new jobs.

Willerby models on display at The Lawns in 2019.
Willerby models on display at The Lawns in 2019.
(Image: Shaun Flannery Photography Ltd)

“These jobs will cover the full range of production roles. We expect to be able to make them available for people to apply for in mid-April, with the new production line due to open in July.”

The announcement is a positive step for the company after employees at Willerby were told in August 2020 that their jobs could be at risk as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Production closed off across the industry that is clustered around East Yorkshire, with uncertainty abounding as to how it would play out. There were calls to government for additional support on top of the furlough schemes as routes to market were impacted as well as manufacturing.

Now as parks prepare to re-open as self-contained accommodation gets the go-ahead from Monday, the pent-up demand is being handled across the city and hinterland.

Atlas, Sunseeker and Victory have all added new Hull manufacturing sites, while Swift is predicting a strong return in recent results.

Southport joins the home site at Hull and Livingston in Scotland in showcasing the Willerby range.

It is easily accessible to 22 miles of coastline and has attracted tourists since the industrial revolution opened up travel for many. Bosses hope to woo park operators and dealerships from across the North West, North Wales and Lake District.

Peter Munk, chief executive, said: “This is a very exciting step in Willerby’s journey, as we celebrate our 75 th anniversary year.

Willerby commercial director Matt Lightburn, left, and Southport showground manager Shane Smith at the holiday homes market leader’s new site on the North West coast.
Willerby commercial director Matt Lightburn, left, and Southport showground manager Shane Smith at the holiday homes market leader’s new site on the North West coast.
(Image: 43 Clicks North)

“We are very proud of the company’s history and rich heritage, but it is important to always look forward.

“The opening of our wonderful new showground, in a prime location for the holiday home industry, comes as the country begins to open back up after an incredibly challenging time.

“It has also been a period when many people have realised that spending time with family and friends is what really matters to them and, in this respect, the UK staycation has never been more appealing.”

The company has worked with GP and television personality Dr Hilary Jones in recent times, with the importance of regular short breaks over longer single holidays emerging.

“At a time when many people are looking at how they can make the best and most enjoyable use of their time, the positive impact short breaks can have on mental health are being widely acknowledged,” said Mr Munk.

“Many people are considering buying a holiday home for the first time and, as a trusted brand with a strong tradition and reputation, we can help them make the best decision for themselves and their families.”

The business was founded in 1946 when Walter Allen, a resident of Willerby, on the outskirts of Hull, decided to switch from making beehives to building touring caravans for the growing post-war holiday park industry.

The latest premium holiday home, Astoria, will now grace Southport.

The Astoria from Willerby, on display at the new Southport showground.
The Astoria from Willerby, on display at the new Southport showground.
(Image: 43 Clicks North)

The two or three-bedroom model is the first launch of the special anniversary year, and has been designed to maximise living space.

It is one of 15 Willerby designs on display, including 10 holiday homes, three holiday lodges, one bespoke lodge and one residential park home. An independent cafe will also open once allowed.

Willerby’s commercial director, Matt Lightburn, said: “Southport is the ideal location to open our third showground as there are so many fantastic, family-owned holiday parks along the North West coast and close by in popular locations such as North Wales and the Lake District.

“Consumers will be able to visit and have a really good look at our unrivalled range of models. We’re looking forward to providing them with friendly advice and guidance to help them choose their perfect home from home.”

Business Live – North West