Despite the best efforts of Top Gear, the caravan sector is enjoying significant growth.

The number of caravan holidays in England rose by 11% from 92.6m in 2014 to 102.7m last year, according to the Great Britain Tourism Survey.  Ownership is also on the rise: sales and dispatch of new touring caravans, motorhomes and caravan holiday homes increased by 10% according to the National Caravan Council, the UK trade body for caravanning.

The sector is highly fragmented as most of the 3,000 caravan parks and campsites in the UK are individually owned. Two of the biggest players in the market – Parkdean and Park Resorts – have grown by acquiring individual sites.  When they merged in November last year they had 24 and 49 parks respectively, with a combined estimated enterprise value of £960m.  Adjusted pro-forma EBITDA for the period ending December 2015 was £106.6m. Several other smaller deals happened during 2015, and further consolidation in the sector appears likely.

Larger operators are able to offer a wide range of accommodation options, allowing customers to pitch up in their caravan, motorhome or tent as well as offering caravans and lodges for hire or sale.

Britain’s caravan craze has been fuelled by the growing appetite for staycations. The attitude towards caravan holidays has also softened and the negative connotations associated with them are gradually fading. Google data also shows increasing search interest from younger age groups.

Another factor behind the success of the sector is glamping, which we covered in last week’s Pragmatist.Gone are the days of caravan parks being large fields full of caravans and little else.  Many caravan parks today offer accommodation and amenities comparable to that of hotels, from housekeeping services and luxury toiletries to high definition TVs, wine refrigerators and hot tubs, together with on-site entertainment.

Brexit has also played a part in the sector’s growth this year with a weaker pound encouraging holidaymakers to stay in the UK.  Even though this may cease to be a growth driver in the future, the outlook for the sector is promising.  The convenience of caravan holidays, the value for money they offer, the improved product offering and the changing attitudes of holidaymakers, provide good support for future growth.

Demetris Demetriou