Caravan firm is on road to success

Commentators often look for business success stories during times of recession — and now Ilkeston has one of its very own.

Caravan soft-furnishings company Springvale Leisure set up ten years ago and during that period has increased its annual turnover from £400,000 to £7.5 million.

The firm, based on the Manners Industrial Estate, makes everything from seating to bedroom furnishings, upholstery and curtains.

Owner Jim Duffield says the company, which started out in 1973 as a general furnishing company, now has 25 per cent of the UK market in caravan upholstery.

“The thing about it is that when you pick up a newspaper or watch the TV it seems really bad, but with many people not travelling abroad, people have gone back to the big caravan sites,” said Jim.

“Haven, Warner, Butlins and Rank holiday parks have bought a lot more caravans than they had been.”

“It has a lot to do with the exchange rate being so bad for the pound.”

Springvale has just signed three-year contracts with three customers worth £20 million over that period and has three other customers worth £6.5 million annually.

“There’s also touring caravans,” he said.

“The parts tourers use have dramatically changed with types of metals and fibre glass which have never been used before.

“These have made caravans lighter and mean you don’t need high-powered 4x4s to tow them. This has caused an influx of people buying caravans.”

Jim said the firm was very confident about where it was going and was also relieved to be bucking the trend.