Atlas Leisure Homes celebrates a milestone birthday this year – having now manufactured high-quality and beautifully designed holiday homes that customers love for 50 years.
On 3rd April 1973, Atlas Caravan Company was founded. Through the years, many things have changed and evolved, but the Atlas name has always remained.
Atlas was just starting out during the economic turmoil of the 1970s, amid a period of high inflation, oil prices, and strike action. With its first factory located in a disused fish warehouse in Hull, the business began mainly manufacturing for export customers.
Atlas soon became notable for its distinctive designs, and throughout the 1970s kept up to date with the latest caravan technology – adding in heating systems and de-luxe models to their ranges. In the 1970s, the Atlas Zodiac range introduced bunk beds and showers for family users – and later in the decade De-Luxe models came out, complete with kitchens like those found at home.
Princess Anne at the 1979 Earls Court Caravan Show inspecting the four-berth model
Despite continued economic challenges throughout the 1980s, the company’s innovative ranges would help keep demand for their holiday homes buoyant. Atlas saw its sales reach new heights as more dealers took on the brand. Customers loved the Supreme model, this had beamed ceilings, which were popular at the time. While the Gemini 35ft De-Luxe had a stylish breakfast bar with fold up stools.
The Hull factory was now working flat out and able to offer customers more home comforts, as the parks were now becoming better equipped with mains water and electrics.
The 1990s would see Atlas produce more lavish interiors that echoed that of the domestic market trends. Attending all the major shows and events, the Atlas name was now a top choice in a highly competitive market.
In 1990 the company launched its Encore in 10ft wide, as well as a 12ft wide, known as the Encore Super. With a luxurious lounge that featured a built in six-seater front window settee, the four models offered sleeping for up to eight people!
Atlas holiday homes were easy to spot on parks because of the business’ determination to distinguish its designs from others in the market. The 2000s would see further changes, with the introduction of ever more lavish interiors and pitched roofs.
By 2004, models such as the Solitaire Super and Oakwood Super had free-standing seating and a log burner electric fire, together with fully fitted kitchens with washing machines and dishwashers.
Despite new challenges due to the economic climate, Atlas kept consistently updating and improving. Its aim was to keep potential buyers interested in upgrading to a new Atlas model, by providing season-extending features such as heating systems, double glazing and insulation.
This decade also saw Atlas introduce lodges, which were soon seen as market leaders. Their interior design and exterior profile incorporated the very latest trends in domestic living. In 2009 the Ruby range was released, to which the Atlas team added specially designed models for the disabled user.
After the financial crash of 2008/09, the business continued to manufacture new models and ranges, but on a smaller scale than in the previous years. However, the power of the brand endured, and Atlas continued to grow again from 2010 onwards.
In 2019, a significant change occurred with the completion of a Management Buy-Out (MBO) and a completely new ownership team at the helm of Atlas. The ownership may have changed, but the strategic aim of the new team in charge remained the same as ever, to continue to manufacture the best quality product possible whilst introducing new and innovative materials and design features.
With Covid-19 recently affecting foreign travel, Atlas saw the demand for its holiday homes and lodges reach new levels in the 2020s. Due to this, the decision was made to set up a second production plant at nearby Sutton Fields Industrial Estate in Hull, to provide additional capacity.
By sticking to the principles of quality design, keeping up to date with consumer desires and needs, and with the support of a dedicated workforce, Atlas is now one of the longest-producing holiday caravan manufacturers in Europe.
The company continues to transform and provide accommodation with the most luxurious and modern features. The Debonair lodge is a great example of this, as it offers features such as a Belfast sink, integrated appliances, walk in wardrobes and a wine cooler.
Today, Atlas produces up to 3,000 caravans a year from their home in Hull, with a workforce of over 500 dedicated employees working over the two sites.
The business has several different focuses for the future. Of course, providing well-designed, spacious and comfortable holiday homes is at the forefront of their mission – but they are also thinking about sustainability and investing in the future workforce.
Steven McGawn, Managing Director and shareholder of Atlas Leisure Homes, discussed this further: “As customers think about the environmental impact of foreign holidays, and choose to stay closer to home for breaks, the popularity of holiday homes will continue to grow. Our homes are also reaching new customer bases – for example multi-generation families are enjoying time spent in our holiday homes.”
Part of this sustainability drive includes working with UK suppliers and producing components in Hull. Steven explained: “We are proud to work with UK suppliers, and even cut and mill most of our own wood, so the majority of our wooden furnishings are bespoke and handmade. We also have the capability to press our own furniture doors.”
Atlas are also looking to the future of their workforce – to ensure young people are entering the caravan industry with the skills they need to be successful – by offering various training opportunities. Steven said: “We take on a cohort of 10 trainees at a time, placing them on a 13-week in-house training programme, designed to provide skills in a niche area we have a requirement for. We’re proud of this achievement and enabling young people in the area to start a career.”
Steven adds: “It’s a real privilege to be associated with such a heritage brand as Atlas, especially as we celebrate our 50th year of production this year.
“Having already been aware of the business and the industry, one of the major attractions for me in joining Atlas five years ago was the brand’s great reputation and the overwhelming loyalty of its customer base. “Here’s to another 50 years of Atlas producing high-quality and beautifully designed holiday homes that our customers know and love –to make special memories for many years to come.”
We would like to wish the team at Atlas a very happy birthday – with such great holiday homes in their range, we are sure they will continue to be one of the leading names in holiday home and lodge manufacturing well into the future.
With special thanks to caravan industry expert Andrew Jenkinson for his help researching Atlas’ history.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Atlas Leisure Homes
Wiltshire Road, Hull HU4 6PD
T: 01482 562101