Exclusive Interview With Simon Howard Of Bailey Of Bristol
Bill and Simon side by side in France on the Bristanbul tour
Monday, 08, Apr 2019 02:47
Last year, we are actually fast approaching the 1 year anniversary, I was fortunate enough to be selected to take part in the Bailey Of Bristol Bristanbul tour where we covered 21 countries in 21 days while towing 2 caravan and driving a motorhome. During the three weeks on the road the bond that formed within the team was one of a kind, and one of the best things to come out of the trip. So almost a year on I catch up with a friend I made on the tour, Simon Howard, to find out how one of the UK's largest leisure vehicle companies are getting on.
Bailey have very humble beginnings spanning all the way back to 1948 where the very first caravan was created, in a shed, and was sold for £200.
Since then Bailey Of Bristol have had phenomenal growth and now produce around 6,500 caravans and motorhomes each year to help fill the ever growing demand from the public. During the bumper year that was 2017 Bailey saw some amazing sales figures and generated a turnover of £144 million.
Having created some video content for Bailey in the past the CaravanTimes team were selected to video document the Bristanbul trip and it was here where I got to know Simon.
When you are travelling through the picturesque mountains of the French Alps and the not so friendly border of Bosnia you do find quite a lot to talk about and you really do get to know your team well.
I can safely say that me and Simon got on quite well and it is always a pleasure bumping into him at shows, product launches and when we visit Bailey HQ. But that's enough from me, let's talk to Simon.
CT- What is your main role at Bailey Of Bristol?
Simon- I am the Marketing Director.
How do you keep marketing fresh in such an ever changing market?
It is always a balancing act maintaining communication with both existing and potential new audiences. Fortunately new marketing channels allow us to get our messages across to different people in different ways. Ultimately, however, successfully marketing caravans and motorhomes is about highlighting the features of the product itself and the lifestyle it allows you to enjoy.
Last year saw some great new models from Bailey. I quite like the Grande range especially. You must have been working all out to get so many new vans to market ahead of the new season.
Quite Like? Introducing new products into the market is a complex exercise and requires a considerable amount of time and resources.
We start the process with a series of customer and retailer focus groups to make sure we are making what people want, and then rigorously test the resulting proto-type models on test tracks and cold chambers to ensure they work.
Once they have been validated to ensure they comply with both UK and European Standards only then can they be made available to the general public.
We saw the Grande and the all new Phoenix hit the market last year. How have to two new ranges been received?
We have been very encouraged by the performance of these two new ranges thus far. Prior to their launch we, as a business, were overly dependent on our Unicorn range in terms of retail sales, however we now have a much better balanced portfolio with three distinct product offerings appealing to a broader spectrum of potential customers.
We spent quite some time together driving across Europe last year. What was your highlight of the tour, apart from my choice of driving music?
Getting hopelessly lost in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in Istanbul with a caravan in tow.
Is there anything that we can look forward to from Bailey in 2019?
Again we have plenty of exciting new products, both caravans and motorhomes, in the pipeline for launch later this year. So watch this space...