Four Season Business

Four Season Business

The Parks business is in Nic Allen’s blood. Now Managing Director of Avon Estates, Nic’s grandfather Bill was the well-known founder of the eponymous Allen’s Caravans in the 1950s.
Allen’s Caravans was initially focused on holiday parks but Bill returned from a visit to the USA in the 1960s enthused with the trend for residential park living across the pond. Inspired to take things in a new direction, this move would change the trajectory of his family’s business interests for years to come.
When Nic’s father John decided to move away from Allen’s Caravans in 1984 taking three parks with him, Avon Estates was born. The company’s first residential park was bought in 1989 – St Mary’s in Birmingham – and was only sold last year.
Today, Avon Estates owns and operates six leading residential parks As well as five luxury holiday parks. Under the leadership of Nic Allen for the past eight years since his father John passed away, the company has doubled in size and significantly increased its residential portfolio.
FAMILY BUSINESS
“I’ve been involved in the family business for 20 years, but since I’ve been at the helm of Avon Estates, growing the residential side of the company has been my preference”, explains Nic.
“Not that we have neglected our holiday parks. We have just completed a £4 million renovation at our flagship Stratford Park.
But as my father and grandfather identified, park homes more easily guarantee a steady income and lead to a stronger business model that can literally weather all seasons. ”
During the last 18 months, Nic has secured two brand new parks and alongside a couple of other joint ventures, this makes a total of 320 residential bases to be installed. Nic estimates that this represents at least 10 years of future development.
“We have many new parks in the pipeline and last autumn we acquired the five-star caravan and camping park, Broadmeadow Park, in Ross-on-Wye, where we plan to add some residential homes,” says Nic. “Having achieved a level playing field in the business means that I now have more time to focus on acquisition.”
With this in mind, history has come full circle with the setting up of a new company six months ago, a joint venture between the two family businesses, Avon Estates and Allen’s Caravans.
Out of the six residential parks in the Avon Estates portfolio, three are currently the primary focus: Marston Edge and Welford Chase close to Warwickshire’s Stratford-upon-Avon, and Presthope Grange in Shropshire.
IDYLLIC VILLAGE
Welford Chase is a select riverside development of just 28 brand new plots for the over 50s in the idyllic village of Welford-onAvon, boasting outstanding country and riverside views.
The centre of the village, which is situated just four miles west of Stratford-upon-Avon, is designated as a conservation area and contains a number of attractive thatched houses, including what is believed to be the original “chocolate box cottage” in Boat Lane, reputedly the most photographed street in Warwickshire.
Marston Edge is another new park in a stunning location on the edge of the beautiful Cotswolds. 49 single storey homes are surrounded by the serenity of the Cotswold Hills whilst having the lively buzz of the market towns of Stratford-upon-Avon and Chipping Campden just a few miles away.
To the west in historical Shropshire, the new hillside development of Presthope Grange is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty. 130 park homes are being developed here, on a site that lies 1000 feet above sea level among rolling hills and picturesque woodland, just 10 minutes from the pretty market town of Much Wenlock.
It’s obvious that location is of paramount importance across the Avon Estates portfolio and Nic admits to being “very picky” about the geographical areas they invest in.
“We are completely location driven when we are looking to purchase holiday or residential parks,” says Nic. “Most of our parks are close to tourist hotspots and even the newest one in Ross-on-Wye is situated just a couple of hundred metres from the picturesque town centre. I can’t think of a better retirement destination!” Avon Estates Head Office is itself located just minutes away from historic Stratford-upon-Avon on its riverside holiday park.
A team of just over 100 are employed across the business but the majority are on the holiday park side. Sales are managed in-house but development is handled by Park Evolution and most other roles such as maintenance and landscaping are contracted out.
SMOOTH OPERATOR
Nic says his excellent relationship with manufacturer Omar helps to keep the stocking plans of the parks running smoothly but he works with a number of different home manufacturers depending on individual customer requirements.
Nic recognises that this is a business in which the customer is king.
“We are getting to the stage where we are quite a large operator now,” explains Nic, “but still operate an open door and open book policy, and we meet every customer who joins us. All the residents have my mobile number and I spend a lot of time on the parks.”
Nic is proud that the family values that have always been significant in Avon Estates, still permeate the business as it grows ever bigger.
“The park homes business is a constant learning curve but we are getting closer to getting it right. We pride ourselves on our customer service. From the moment of first enquiry, to looking after our customers during the move, and onto the handover and after sales, Avon Estates is second to none.”
“I’ve learnt so much over the last few years and the sector is constantly changing. I think the biggest challenge is still people’s perception of what a park home is. Some customers literally cannot believe their eyes when they visit one of our show homes!
Everyone in the industry is trying their hardest to up their game and transform the old prejudices. We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years but there is still some way to go.”

Avon Park
Tel. 01789 299492
www.avon-estates.co.uk

Matchmakers

Matchmakers

Jane Herbert talks to Mandy Challis, a new breed of park home industry specialist…

Park home success relies on matching people with the right home, in the right park, in the right location. Image courtesy of pantmawrpark.co.uk

Park home success relies on matching people with the right home, in the right park, in the right location. Image courtesy of pantmawrpark.co.uk

Finding the right home can be fraught with difficulties putting moving house regularly at the top of most people’s stress lists.

Solutions that help to smooth the home buying process are just what the park home industry needs. Mandy Challis is at the forefront of a new breed of industry specialists whose job it is to match customers to the perfect park and park home. Last October, fuelled by the growing popularity in park home living and receiving up to 180 enquiries a week from retail customers, the Omar Group appointed Mandy as Retail Sales Manager.

Her brief: to offer the same outstanding customer service experience to potential home owners and retail customers, as already developed in the trade side of the business. Success is not just about matching people to the right home, but also the right park, in the right location. Mandy explains: “My role is to help people find exactly what they’re looking for, whether that’s to find a park in a specific area, to ensure that a park is close to a bus stop or local shops, or to find a pet friendly park for example. “Buying a new home is a huge decision, so first I take the time to understand an individual’s wants and needs and then I match those needs to a park and home.”

PITCH PERFECT

In the first six months of the role, Mandy matched more than 30 couples and individuals to their perfect park and home. “It’s not just about finding the right park or home though, it’s also about being there for people to answer questions, give advice and support them through their journey,” says Mandy. Customers vary considerably in their requirements and the amount and type of information they need. Many are at the very earliest stages of looking into park home ownership and need help unpicking everything from legislation to finance. Mandy also helps customers with their choice and specification of home, ensuring that it fits not only their requirements, but those of the chosen location.

BRICKS AND MORTAR

The possibilities are almost endless. Buying any new home is daunting but making the move from the traditional bricks and mortar property market and leaping into the park home world, especially in later years of life, can be particularly overwhelming.

To read more on this story, subscribe here.

One Stop Shop

Whetting your appetite for the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show this November…

The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show returns to Birmingham in November.

The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show returns to Birmingham in November.

Building on the success of its launch in 2015, the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show returns to Birmingham in November and this year the team is pulling out all the stops to make the show bigger and better than before. Taking place on November 9-10 at the NEC, the show is a must for park and land owners looking to diversify their land into a lucrative tourism enterprise, or those looking for new and innovative ways to put their park on the map.

Visitors to the two-day event can get a glimpse of the latest glamping trends and products, as well as a comprehensive lineup of seminars, workshops and suppliers needed to make a holiday park business a success. “Holiday Park & Resort Innovation is an entirely unique event for entrepreneurs striving for success in one of the most vibrant and competitive sectors in British business today,” says event organiser Will Mansfield.

“The show brings together top industry experts, leading suppliers, interactive workshops, live debates and seminars all focused on providing the inspiration, advice and resources holiday park and resort owners need to enhance the performance of their business,” he adds. The show will be expanding into Hall 8 of the NEC this year, with more than 300 suppliers and an estimated 3,500 visitors.Visitors will have the opportunity to learn from the top experts at google, Airbnb and Booking.com and hear from some of the industry’s most successful individuals such as Carl Castledine CEO of Away Resorts, George Bryan Director of Drayton Manor and Bernard Donoghue CEO of ALVA.

“As in 2015, the Holiday Park Innovation Show will again support The Family Holiday Association as its official charity and in addition we’re excited to announce our official trade partnership with the NCC,” says Will. “As the UK trade body for the tourer, motorhome, caravan holiday home and residential park home industries we look forward to working closely with the NCC before, during and after the event this year.” The show runs alongside Rural Entrepreneur Live, incorporating Farm Business Innovation & Country House Innovation in Hall 9, which provides landowners with the inspiration, advice and resources they need to diversify, innovate and make more money from their land and property.

Packed with relative content, this additional show provides visitors to Holiday Park & Resort Innovation with further unique opportunities they might not have previously come across.

Running on the November 9 – 10 2016 at the NEC Birmingham, tickets to attend the show are free. Visitors just need to register via the website www.holidayparkshow.co.uk.

Smart Choice

smartEnergy Controls is a leading supplier of electricity SMART Meters and pre-payment metering systems to holiday parks throughout the UK. The company specialises in providing its customers with fully managed metering solutions including installation and support for prepayment Card Meters, as well as data collection for SMART Meters that can be integrated with PayPoint for greater prepayment flexibility.
If you want to find out more about MID compliance or if you are thinking about installing or upgrading your meters, either to ensure your energy costs are recovered fully or to reduce your billing administration, then visit Stand 1346 where the team will be happy to sit and discuss your requirements with you.

Energy Controls
Tel. 0845 230 4535
www.econtrols.co.uk

Make a Splash

makeWorld Leisure UK can deliver the full turnkey option for your water leisure facility.
From initial design through to construction and handover, World Leisure UK can help to deliver your water leisure facility aspirations. The company benefits from close links with a manufacturing facility, which enables them to keep a large part of the manufacturing side of an installation, from moveable floors and filter vessels through to stainless steel handrails close to home. Their experience in the commercial sector ensures that their designs and installations conform to the current legislation, written especially for the swimming pool industry by the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group, Sport England and the Health & Safety Executive.

World Leisure UK
Tel. 01772 284883
www.worldleisureuk.co.uk

Fun For All

funFor over 45 years, World of Rides has been a leading UK manufacturer of children’s leisure rides in the UK. From its premises in County Durham, the company supplies major shopping centres, retailers, visitor attractions, fun farms, holiday parks, garden centres, family entertainment centres and hospitality centres that include national and single-site operators. Their vast knowledge and experience ensures that every ride they manufacture is rigorously tested both in the factory and onsite before being released for sale.
They maintain a dedicated customer support office which ensures that all their customers receive the very best advice on the profitable and safe operation of their rides.

World Of Rides
Tel. 01914 920 999
www.worldofrides.com

Home from Home

homeOmar is a leading manufacturer of luxury lodges and park homes with a reputation built upon 50 years of manufacturing experience.
All Omar’s homes and lodges are built to residential standard BS3632:2015. This means they are suitable for residential use throughout the year and are built to last at least 50 years.
Interiors have a choice of intelligent floor layouts to suit individual needs and are right up to date with stunning interior design. All homes come with quality branded furniture, white goods, double-glazing and central heating as standard.
With industry leading design, exceptional build quality and unsurpassed attention to detail, meet the Omar team on stand 1562 to discuss how they can help deliver your dream lodge.

Omar Park Homes
Tel. 01842 810 673
www.omar.co.uk

In The Fast Lane

trikeA world-first in design innovation, itrike easy-to-ride electric vehicles give the leisure market a superb opportunity to offer customers a new and dynamic transportation experience. They also present an excellent ROI opportunity for holiday rentals. Including both e-bikes and e-scooters, itrike’s range of noise-free electric vehicles have been cleverly designed to provide users aged from 14 years + with an exhilarating ride that is both fun and safe. They are propelled by a reliable, long-lasting lithium-ion battery coupled with a Bosch electric motor, providing a maximum speed of 15mph (e-bike version). Visitors will also have the chance to win an itrike at the show!

itrike
Tel. 01743 761107
www.itrike.co.uk

Take a Dip

takeRotoSpa is the UK’s only spa manufacturer. A family company established 15 years ago, the Midlands-based factory supplies the holiday industry all over the UK. From simple, robust, quality tubs for holiday lets to more complex commercial solutions to solve labour demand and legislative issues. Make RotoSpa your preferred hot tub partner. RotoSpa will be exhibiting a number of exciting holiday park hot tub innovations to enable owners and operators to reap the financial rewards of hot tub provision whilst giving them a newfound peace of mind that they will be able to comply with legislative requirements without undue strain on staff time.

RotoSpa
Tel. 0121 354 3428
www.rotospa.co.uk

Don't Miss Us

As the official media partner of the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show, visitors should make a beeline for Holiday Park Scene magazine on stand 1641. We will be giving away complimentary copies of the magazine and the team will be on hand to discuss your business goals for 2017. Holiday Park Scene is an essential read for anyone involved in holiday park and campsite management. At least 5,000 copies of Holiday Park Scene are distributed six times annually to key personnel in all aspects of the holiday park industry across the UK and Eire. We have a combined online presence of 20,000. Talk to the team to find out more about the editorial, advertising and marketing services that we offer.

Holiday Park Scene
Tel. 01353 666663
www.holidayparkscene.com