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Income will fall

Jerba founder hoping for lift from staycationers

Staff have returned to complete conversions

Campervan manufacturer Simon Poole is hoping for an uplift in orders from staycationers to help offset a loss of revenue during the lockdown.

Predictions that more people will be holidaying at home this year were backed up by an 80% rise in web traffic to North Berwick based Jerba Campervans.

But enquiries have yet to be converted into firm orders. As things stand income is likely to be down on last year.

Jerba was forced to furlough all 14 staff, and all but one are back at work. Mr Poole reassured the team that the company had reserves to cover full wages.

“For the next six months I’m cautious but optimistic. Enquiries are up, but these need to turn into orders,” admitted Mr Poole.

One of the team left to relocate, and having some new ways of working with regard to Covid will have a small impact on the business.

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“Revenues will be around 25% down on 2019 – basically reflecting the lockdown period,” he said.

“However, we’re always finding ways to speed up production through better ideas, improved processes etc.”

Volkswagen supplies Jerba with the skeletons of the campervans, which it transforms into homes on wheels, made individually to each customer’s specification. 

Jerba , which became employee-owned in early 2018, completed 54 full conversions in the year to January.

While turnover remained steady at £2.6 million, a 9% increase in productivity helped drive a 19% boost in profits, leading to an increase in the company’s employee profit share bonus.

Mr Poole, who co-founded Jerba with his wife Cath in 2006, said the employee-ownership model had worked for the company.

Whether or not the predicted boom in staycations fully materialises or not, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing

– Simon Poole, Jerba Campervans

“Our team really is together and united. Everyone takes an active role in assessing our productivity, knowing full well that it boosts the business and directly impacts both their long term job security and their annual bonus.

“Since coming back from lockdown, the togetherness has been exceptional, as we strive to catch up on customer orders and ensure everyone feels safe and able to do their job to the fullest extent.

“Whether or not the predicted boom in staycations fully materialises or not, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing, working with our small team to build bespoke campervans that we hope go on to become beloved by their owners.” 

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said the staycation market remains subdued. July average occupancy numbers for Glasgow and Edinburgh hotels are between 6-8% and August and September will hit only 15%.

“The hotel needs to be at 60% occupancy just to break even,” he said.

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