Shorefield Holidays operates eight holiday parks across Hampshire and Dorset. As it geared up for the busy summer season, reporter Tim Wickham dropped by to find out why the family-run enterprise is more popular than ever.
Shorefield Holidays: No 141
It takes a family to know what makes a great family holiday. Shorefield Holidays was started in 1958 when Dr Robert Pollock bought his first caravan park in Milford on Sea after frustration trying to find a site to take his own family on holiday.
Fast forward 60 years and five members of the family continue the tradition of creating memorable holiday experiences. They run an expanding £26.7 million business that’s ranked 141st in the Solent 250.
“The majority of our revenue comes from the sale of holiday homes on our parks, followed by holiday income from our own hire fleet,” said Paula Curtis, director, Shorefield Holidays.
Location, location, location
Shorefield’s holiday parks benefit from their idyllic locations, from Swanage to the New Forest. The company has over 2,000 pitches across its parks, which are a mix of static and touring/ tenting. Most are at its main centre, Shorefield Country Park, and just over half are occupied by privately owned caravans.
The parks feature swimming pools, restaurants and a line-up of entertainment for all ages. Shorefield is also is a multiple winner of the David Bellamy Conservation Award for dedication to wildlife and the environment.
Simon Bransgrove, marketing manager at Shorefield Holidays, said: “We are really lucky to have all our parks in such beautiful locations. The local area and all it has to offer, is a natural magnet for holidaymakers and holiday home owners alike, many of whom, surprisingly travel very short distances to our locations.
“Each of our parks are unique and very individual, whether you’re looking to experience the tranquility of the New Forest or the picturesque setting of the seaside. Family friendly, large or small, “We have something for everyone,” said Bransgrove. “Customers choose the small Swanage Coastal Park for its peaceful location and stunning views over the bay, while Shorefield Country Park, on the other hand, offers a full and fabulous range of facilities.”
Being a seasonal business presents plenty of planning challenges. Kaz Mortimer, Shorefield’s group general manager, said: “In the summer, we staff up to our maximum of around 300 team members, of whom about 100 are seasonally employed.”
She added: “We make use of the seasonality. We use the low season for maintenance and refurbishment. Over the quieter winter months we focus on projects like replacing caravans.”
Refurbishment is a long-term investment strategy. “We know the age of every caravan and are constantly looking at what’s new in the market to upgrade our models,” said Curtis.
Strategy for expansion
In 2018 the company acquired its eighth site, Wilksworth Caravan Park near Wimborne. “We are always on the lookout for parks to buy, but they are very hard to come by and get snapped up quickly,” said Curtis. “Our focus is on the South Coast.”
Hire fleet caravans are usually replaced every four or five years, which is one of the company’s biggest capital outlays. Pre-owned caravan prices for ownership start from around £28,000; luxury lodges can cost up to £500,000. The average length of ownership is about seven years but many owners stay for much longer.
Supporting the local economy
One of Shorefield’s most profitable areas in recent years is its restaurants and shops. Food sales so far in 2019 have grown by around 25% compared with the previous year.
“We work with local producers. Smaller, independent suppliers provide the majority of our food, so our customers know it is high quality and freshly prepared,” said Mortimer.
Shorefield’s 125,000 visitors a year each spend on average £64 a day, both on and off the parks. The company estimates that it contributes £31m to the local economy, including over £4.4m a year spent with local businesses and suppliers. Of its 250-strong workforce, some 95% live within 10 miles of its parks.
One of Shorefield’s strengths is re-imagining the traditional seaside and caravanning holiday experience in new ways that please all generations. Shrewd marketing, the mix of private and hired units, and a decade of staycations have consolidated the company’s success. Even Brexit uncertainty doesn’t appear to have deterred holidaymakers.
This most traditional of English holidays has never seemed more contemporary.
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