Eighty new jobs are being created in Hull after Atlas Leisure Homes swooped for a new factory to meet a strong order book.
The caravan manufacturer has taken on a 55,000 sq ft site at the former McBride plant on West Carr Business Park, Sutton Fields, in addition to its existing Wiltshire Road base.
It is the latest chapter in a strong coronavirus comeback for the cluster, with many fearing the worst when the pandemic triggered the first lockdown.
Now with the staycation market booming and holiday parks building capacity ready for the 2021 season and beyond, the sector is on the up – with demand building as the first home curfew progressed.
Operations director, Colin Jeffrey, said: “It has been a tough time in our industry. Like many others we had to furlough staff during lockdown and even when we were able to return to our existing production site, we didn’t have enough space to allow our staff to return to a safe environment. We’re delighted to be in a position to recruit so many people and to have the space to be able to safely take them on.”
New production lines will operate under Covid guidelines at the new facility, part of the former aerosol plant that has not been used for a number of years.
Mr Jeffrey said: “As staycations look likely to be here for quite some time, many caravan parks have needed to grow their fleet, and more people are opting to invest in their own holiday home rather than risking travel abroad. This has led to an increased order book – and with no sign of it slowing down – the time was right for the company to grow its people and premises.”
Production jobs will include jig shop and cab shop operators, finishers, roofers, and furnishers.
Already an employer of 270, the expansion comes after a management buy-out in early 2019, allowing long-standing shareholders Bruce Harry, Andrew Innes and Barry Pattison to exit.
Mr Jeffrey, who was part of the MBO alongside commercial director Steven McGawn and sales and marketing director Philip Spark, said the £32 million turnover company has made the “significant investment” with the strong support of HSBC.
It follows fellow caravan builder Sunseeker’s acquisition of a second site in Drypool as the fledgling firm grows.
At Atlas, new ways of working were initiated in June after an employee-led task force was introduced. Measures including provision of wash stations, two-metre distancing, mask wearing and temperature checks upon site entry were established.
“We offer a safe environment and positive culture and would like to welcome experienced caravan operatives to continue building a successful and high-quality product,” Mr Jeffrey said. “We’re on a fantastic journey and one we can all benefit from in many ways.”