MP calls on the Government to intervene following Lunar Caravans entering administration

The Government has been called on to intervene following one of Lancashire’s historic caravanning businesses entering administration.

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 3:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 4:34 pm
Lunar Caravans (JPIMedia)

Lunar Caravans, based in Lostock Hall, entered administration on Tuesday with specialist business advisors FRP Advisory appointed as administrators.

It has seen 142 production workers laid off and all production suspended, leaving the business and its remaining 54 employees operating at a reduced capacity.

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Lunar Caravans (JPIMedia)

But now Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley – which includes Lostock Hall – has vowed to take the case to the Government to help with any potential sale of the business.

Speaking to the Post, Evans said: “I was very concerned upon hearing that Lunar Caravans, a stalwart of local business in South Ribble, had entered administration this week.

“It is an extremely worrying and turbulent time for the employees and their families who have been left in limbo by the news and I will be looking to see what government assistance can be made available to potential buyers of Lunar Caravans to ensure minimal disruption of business operations.”

South Ribble Council has also confirmed it is on conversation with the business regarding the future.

Lunar Caravans (JPIMedia)

Coun Paul Foster, Leader of South Ribble Council, said: "We are aware of the situation faced by Lunar Caravans and we are currently in dialogue with the organisation to consider next steps."

The company entered administration due to what FRP Advisory described as “severe cash flow issues in recent months”.

It comes a week after Lunar – which spent its founding years in Wigan before moving to Leyland and then Lostock Hall – took to social media to quash rumours that it was closing down.

Lunar Caravans (JPIMedia)

Responding to a Twitter user asking if there was any truth in “rumours that you have closed down i.e. gone bust” a spokesman replied with: “No, they are just rumours.”

Partners David Acland and Lila Thomas from FRP Advisory are now working with management and full-time employees while a potential sale of the business and its assets is “fully explored”.

Dave Acland said: “Lunar Caravans is a renowned manufacturer of lightweight touring caravans and over the past 50 years has established a reputation for innovative designs and cost-effective models that have become hugely sought after among UK holidaymakers, enjoying an enviable market position and strong brand.

“The UK staycation market remains strong and our focus is now on seeking a buyer for the business and its assets.

The tweet from Lunar Caravans last week denying it had "gone bust"

“We would encourage any interested parties to contact the joint administrators as soon as possible.”

Problems with working in a "very competitive sector" have been highlighted by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce (NWLCC); something exacerbated by "big purchase items" when demand is "drying up".

Alan Welsh from the NWLCC said: “Lunar Caravans is a long standing members of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber and it’s disappointing news that such a well-known local company has had to enter administration.

"They operate in a very competitive sector where margins are tight and have no doubt been hit by higher production costs.

"Our latest Quarterly Economic Survey (Q2) revealed that a lot of Lancashire manufacturers are experiencing cash flow difficulties, which is a huge problem if you make big purchase items and demand is drying up.

"We hope that a buyer can be found soon and that any job losses are kept to a minimum."

Lunar Caravans (JPIMedia)

Interested buyers are told to contact FRP Advisory on 0161 833 3344.

Lunar Caravans has been approached for comment.

A rich history

Lunar Caravans was founded by Brian Talbot and Ken Wilcock, named after the inspirational Apollo 11 1969 mission to land on the moon – the 50th anniversary of which is this Sunday (July 21).

It employed just a handful of people at the start, using a barn in Wigan as a factory.

It later moved to Leyland and then to its current base in Sherdley Road, Lostock Hall.

In 2000 the business partners sold the company to the H2 Caravan Group of the Netherlands.

The value was not disclosed – but it was thought to run into the millions with the company making 2,000 units a year and reports of an annual turnover of £15m.

There was then a management buyout, led by Chairman and CEO, Brian Mellor, which was finalised in 2007.