Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Explorer Group Aims for 30% Rise in Sales

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Explorer Group Aims for 30% Rise in Sales

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme King

Expansion at County Durham caravan manufacturers Explorer Group is projected to deliver a sales rise of more than 30% to pounds 80m.

The Consett company almost went bust five years ago, but has been nurtured back to health by its management team so it is now a thriving business employing 460 staff.

Finance director Rob Quine said Explorer Group expected to increase output to 8,000 caravans and motorhomes each year over the next four years, from 6,400 now, and staff numbers would rise a little too to meet this demand.

Explorer Group's financial year ends today (31st) and Mr Quine said he expected total turnover to be just more than pounds 61m, up from pounds 57m last year, with profits hitting pounds 6m, up from pounds 4.3, excluding an exceptional windfall from a factory sale, last year.

Mr Quine said the whole company ( which trades under the Elddis, Bucanneer and Compass brands ( had undergone a `culture change' since 2001 when it made a pounds 1.4m loss on sales of just pounds 40.7m.

He said: "The issue for this business was way back when we moved factory in 2000/01 and the early part of the following year when the company almost went bust.

"Banks and credit insurers got extremely nervous when we were losing lots of money, and we ran out of cash ( the bank put us in `intensive care'. At the same time, our largest dealer went bust, and one of our largest suppliers went into receivership.

"We had to make rapid changes and the board of directors now is totally different to what it was five or six years ago.

"There's been a lot of change ( a lot of it necessary."

Mr Quine said Explorer Group was now a very responsive business, which could adapt to a changing market place, where previously it had been more complacent.

He said: "We took two quite old fashioned UK manufacturing companies, and moved them into one factory, then had the issue of merging them together, with different styles of management, and different work forces, which inevitably has its difficulties. …

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