Haworths Helps FH Ellis Drive Camper Van Expansion

After 100 years in business, Settle-based car dealership FH Ellis has seen a few trends come and go! And now the company is bringing a little retro cool to its forecourt with help from Haworths Chartered Accountants.

A Peugeot dealer for many years, FH Ellis decided to relinquish the franchise earlier this year, retaining its parts and service department to focus on used car sales.  The company wanted to add another revenue stream to its business and hit upon the idea of converting VW vans into camper vans to capitalise on the growth in popularity of these iconic lifestyle vehicles.

Explains Stephen Howarth, from FH Ellis: “We knew that there was a good profit to be made in converting vans and selling them to camper van enthusiasts and we were also confident that we had the skills in house to make a success of a camper van conversion business. 

“We completed refurbishing a couple towards the end of last year as a toe in the water exercise and sold them in no time, so we were really excited about making the idea a big part of our business.  However, we needed a cash injection to help us buy and convert some stock so that we could get the ball rolling on the forecourt.”

It was at this stage that Stephen mentioned the idea to Haworths Chartered Accountants, having worked with the company for many years.  Director Mark Schofield agreed that the idea could be a great income generator and suggested that FH Ellis should post a business plan proposal on the Funding Circle online portal where potential investors could get involved.

Stephen continues: “Mark advised us on what to include in our online submission and once we’d posted it, everything happened really quickly. We borrowed £50,000 over four years, which has given us plenty of cash and time to get the camper van business off the ground…and now we’re really motoring.”

With camper van sales going well, FH Ellis is converting a wide range of vans from various manufacturers vans and is taking on commissions after being approached by van owners to carry out bespoke conversions. 

The company has already attended some of its local county shows this year and is planning to take its new business to the Great Yorkshire Show and local music festivals next summer.

Stephen continues: “We’ve found that the market for camper vans is even bigger than we’d expected because they make great family vehicles, have a cult following amongst music fans and are extremely popular with cyclists and walkers.”

Mark Schofield adds: “No business should ever be held back from developing a good idea for lack of funding. Our approach is always to develop a relationship with our clients which means that they trust us with all their financial needs and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to help FH Ellis to realise its camper van ambitions so successfully.”