A boom in staycation holidays since Britain came out of lockdown is helping to swell the order books of a major Northamptonshire-based holiday homes manufacturer.
Prestige Homeseeker, which has factories in Rushden and Kettering, has taken almost all of its near-450 staff off furlough to help the company meet escalating demand. Still to return are those employees currently shielding, who it is hoped will be able to safely re-join the team in August – and additional production and technical staff are currently being recruited.
Helping to fuel the escalating orders has been a reluctance by many people in Britain to take a foreign holiday this year, instead opting for a stay in the UK. Proving especially popular among families are Britain’s 3,000 holiday parks, and it is this sector which forms the principle customer base for Prestige Homeseeker.
The firm was founded almost 30 years ago, and has since grown to become one of the UK’s biggest manufacturers of top-end holiday lodges and park homes. As well as holiday parks, Prestige Homeseeker supplies its models to residential parks, where people can live year-round, and also exports to customers in mainland Europe.
Each unit is hand-built using a combination of high-tech processes and traditional artisan skills, and manufacturing now takes place in surroundings where stringent safety measures are in place to protect employees.
Debbie Foulke, Managing Director, says: “Holiday parks in the UK were closed down by government order in late March, and at that point we had no option but to put most of our workforce on the furlough scheme, however, after a quiet few weeks, it became apparent that parks were anticipating being allowed to re-open before the end of summer, and orders started to be placed.
By May, the volume of demand was such that we foresaw a possibility of having to impose extended waiting times for delivery, and took the decision to re-open. It was an immense relief for us to be able to do this, and not to have to risk losing highly valued employees whose skills and expertise are vital to our operation. We are now back to full production capacity with new shift patterns, social distancing and other protective measures in place to protect the workforce.
Our team has been absolutely fantastic throughout the whole period, and have adapted quickly and professionally to the new working conditions at our facilities. We are also now able to reintroduce our apprenticeship and training schemes which will help ensure that our standards of manufacturing excellence are perpetuated.”
Holiday lodges made by Prestige Homeseeker are supplied to holiday parks both for renting to customers and for onward sale to people aspiring to own a leisure home. They are ideally suited for taking holidays in the new atmosphere of caution which now pervades everyone’s lives due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Debbie Foulke points out that holiday homes on parks are set at least five or six metres apart and have their own bathrooms, toilets and kitchens, so there is no need for guests to use communal areas and social distancing can easily be maintained. Holiday parks are also generally located in country and coastal areas away from large centres of population, and therefore have little effect on local communities.
“We were speaking recently to one of our customers, Silverbay Holiday Village in Anglesey in North Wales, which has made eight holiday home sales in the past ten days. Their sales manager said that there was an especially high interest among younger professionals who saw ownership as a way to balance a busy lifestyle with spending more time with their families. This, I think, is significant as it perhaps illustrates the high value which people now place on spending quality time with their loved ones in a relaxed environment. Parks offer all the right conditions for this, and our lodges provide the luxurious and high-quality surroundings to make every stay feel really special.”
Prestige Homeseeker also operates one of the UK’s largest holiday and park home showgrounds at their Rushden factory, and it is here that new products are launched. In recent weeks, this has included the unveiling of its Casa Di Lusso luxury lodge, presented as a “pampering paradise” for those who want to enjoy a first-class holiday experience.
Debbie Foulke says that more new models are scheduled for launch over the coming months, underling the confidence she has in the future of the British holiday market:
“The staycation trend in this country was already well entrenched before lockdown, but now we’re seeing it coming back with even more vigour. Prestige Homeseeker are moving ahead with caution, but we believe that with the right products at the right price, we have a great future within our tourism industry.”