Sun to shine on camping store

The coldest spring in 50 years has chilled sales at an otherwise fluorishing caravan and camping store in Heanor.

Sales of camping accessories at Weekend Leisure Ltd, on Ray Street, are down by a third from last year, though caravan sales are holding steady.

Co-owner John Hopkinson said: “Easter is our Christmas - it starts the season and our sales jump 80 per cent from our winter hibernation. But we didnt have an easter this year. it has started to pick up about two weeks ago.

“That’s the downside of the flexibility of camping - if the sun shines they go off for the weekend but if it doesn’t they don’t. I am sure the sales will come and hopefully they will exceed last year - just not in the same time scale. We have five months a year to make enough money to last 12 months - no one loves us in the winter.”

John, 45, of Sutton in Ashfield, founded the business in 2008 with his business partner Rob Wileman after working in educational IT.

“The recession was on the horizon and we just thought about what industry is due for some growth,” said John. “And it is a much happier industry - you’re dealing with people who are going on holiday - they are wearing shorts! People seem to really enjoy it. A bloke was in the other week - he had taken his kids to Golden Valley and they loved it. He said it had brought them closer as a family unit.”

After researching an industry that “seemed to be stuck in the 1970s”, John and Rob used their expertise to launch the firm with an impressive website: “We wanted to look like a much bigger business - but this is it!”

Over the last 18 months the firm has seen a change of customer as the recession has deterred people from holidaying abroad - with more younger families in their 30s and 40s.

However, good weather still determines the profit margin. John said: “Last year was a bit of a wash out, but now we’re going to have unbroken sunshine from here to October! We better!”