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Automotive & Transport

Midlands motorhome dealership achieves impressive business comeback

Managing Director, Ross Edwards

Telford-based Travelworld Motorhomes has turned its business around after hard hitting global recession struck the recreational vehicle industry.

The family run business specialised in importing and retailing luxury American RVs for over 30 years but when the downturn gripped the American market in 2009 the company lost its main supplier and had to re-think its business strategy.

Managing director, Ross Edwards said: “In 2009, we witnessed 22 RV manufacturers go out of business in the space of one year, that’s when we knew a new strategy was essential for our survival.”

The company shifted its focus completely by taking on British and European brands, including Auto trail, Chausson and Niesmann + Bischoff. It also overhauled its entire infrastructure and culture and moved from selling a low volume high value product to higher volume lower value product, whilst still specialising in the luxury segment of the market.

Ross adds: “We knew our approach had to be a radically different plan from before. It involved some bold decisions and at times, pushed us out of our comfort zone.”

Between 2010-2012 Travelworld employed the services of Colin McCarthy whose previous role had included Commercial Director of Screwfix Direct. Colin became a non-Executive Chairman of the business and assisted Ross in laying the foundations for transforming the business.

Market recovery was not immediate and stayed stagnant at 7,000 new registrations per annum for five years until 2016 when the level increased to former levels of 11,500.

However, during this five-year period, Travelworld still managed to buck the trend within its industry and recorded significant turnover increases every year throughout the recession.

In 2013, one of the largest and most prestigious German leisure vehicle producers awarded Travelworld the Hymer franchise and in 2015 it became an exclusive ERWIN HYMER GROUP dealer, meaning trading would cease with their three non-EHG franchises and it would begin selling two new brands.

Reaping the rewards

Between 2012 and 2017 turnover for the business grew from £10m to £24m, a 140% increase. In 2017, the business was listed in the Financial Times in ‘Europe’s fastest growing companies’ and awarded twelfth ‘fastest growing company in Shropshire’ by international accountancy network, BDO.

Expansion plans continue and in 2017 Travelworld announced plans to relocate and build a new 5-acre dealership premises in Stafford on prime motor retail site at Cresswell Park, Stafford North, next to Junction 14 on the M6.

Ross said: “The opening of the new site will be a fitting reward to the years of hard work and perseverance from the whole Travelworld team after we changed the trajectory of the business. It also marks a fitting start to an exciting new beginning when we can offer vastly improved facilities for our existing customers and attract new customers too.”

The dealership also announced this month that it will be rebranding as ERWIN HYMER CENTRE Travelworld having received the award from its parent group of the brands it represents. It will become one of only three designated centres in the world to achieve the status.

Ross Edwards said: “As you can imagine, this was a big decision for us to make, but it’s simply a continuation of the strategy we have had in the business for the last five years: ‘ever greater ties with our supplier’”.