Doncaster firm celebrates 85 years of caravanning excellence

Yorkshire Caravans has played a key role in the growth of caravanning into one of Britain's most popular leisure and holiday pursuits.

Thursday, 8th September 2016, 4:13 pm
L to r:- Derek Smith, chairman of Yorkshire Caravans from 1950 to 2010 with father and company founder Percy Smith.

And after 85 years in business, the Bawtry-based company shows no sign of putting the brakes on.

The family-run firm has grown from a converted petrol station site into a £10m-a-year turnover business employing about 50 people.

Chairman Jon Goulden.

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And to mark its 85th anniversary, which passed in the summer, Yorkshire Caravans has pledged to invest in the development of its Doncaster Road site to include retail outlets and a children’s play area.

Chairman Jon Goulden said: “We are delighted to be celebrating 85 years in business and to be doing so when business is so prosperous.

“We have a great team, great products and superior customer service and will be enhancing this shortly with the introduction of a dedicated handover showroom to enhance our customer experience.”

Mr Goulden is the third generation of his family to run the business.

Chairman Jon Goulden.

It was in 1931 when Yorkshire Caravans was started by Percy Smith who owned and ran a petrol filling station in Sheffield.

He was asked by a customer if he could store his caravan there for a couple of weeks. The caravan created so much interest Mr Smith contacted the manufacturer and agreed a deal to supply him with new caravans to sell.

Mr Smith then invested the profit in buying two acres of land situated at the company’s present location in Doncaster, and quickly went from strength to strength, selling more than 350 caravans a year.

The business then passed to Percy’s son, Derek Smith. Mr Goulden, who is his stepson, joined the company in 1999. His wife, Jo, is also involved in the firm.

The milestone 85th-year anniversary is going to be marked by two new business developments aimed at improving customer service and attracting more people to the 34-acre site.

An investment of £80,000 is going into creating four heated bays where customers collect their caravans, under the guidance of newly appointed handover co-ordinator Carol Shephard. They will also be offered gifts and the chance of having a picture taken.

And £15,000 is going into a courtyard development of seven retail units, plus a children’s play area.

In addition, the company has marked the milestone year by reviving an old TV advertising slogan that make it popular with holidaymakers.

The 1980s advertising slogan ‘Can we ‘ave one Dad?’ memorably introduced caravanning to the wider market with the likes of celebrities Geoff Capes, Jim Bowen and Terry Scott endorsing it by playing their part in the campaign.

And, in honour of the occasion a little caravan has been decorated with special anniversary decals including the old TV slogan.

While the company has been reminiscing this year, it is also keen to look to the future, and is busy producing, designing and manufacturing a mid-range touring caravan, the Swift Exclusive.

Mr Goulden said: “We are proud to be leading the way and recognising in a very positive way that purchasing a caravan is a big investment that all the family get involved in.

“We want people to enjoy every part of the experience and make them feel very special.”