Belfast campervan company inspired by a road trip Down Under bought over for £4.5m
Belfast-based campervan business Camperco Group has been bought by Australian motorhome firm Apollo for £4.5m.
The Camperco group consists of rental brand Bunk Campers, a manufacturing facility converting Volkswagen campervans for rent, and a motorhome sales and an online shop.
A family business, Bunk Campers is headquartered in Belfast and was inspired by a tour of Australia and New Zealand in a campervan.
Founders, husband and wife Keith Charlton and Louise Corken, identified the opportunity to create and develop the Bunk Campers brand and launched the business in 2007. It then grew into what is now Camperco Group.
Brisbane-based Apollo acts as a manufacturer, rental fleet operator, wholesaler and retailer of a broad range of motorhomes, campervans and caravans across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
Ms Corken explained how the business came to be.
"Well, me and my husband took a career break, so we went on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in a campervan, and we realised there was a gap in the market," she explained.
"We both come from a sales and marketing background.
"I was a marketing director for RHM Bakeries and Keith was a sales director at Gillette, so that informed our thinking.
"At the time we were prospecting for ideas and, simply put, we wanted to give people the classic road trip everyone envisions, with a modern, reliable vehicle."
After launching with just five vehicles, the company grew and expanded into the Republic and Britain.
It now has a fleet of more than 200 vehicles, a campervan conversion arm and an e-commerce platform.
Bunk Campers is currently the largest independent motorhome rental operator in the UK and employs more than 40 staff.
"Last year Apollo were looking to branch into the European market and we were looking to expand into Europe, so it made sense to join forces," Ms Corken said.
"A crucial part of the deal for both sides was that Keith and I would stay on and move forward with the company, which we're very excited about.
"Looking back at where we started and where we are now, I think it's a testament to the business we've realised through our hard work and ambition.
"We are very, very proud to be recognised for it. The adventure continues."
Mr Charlton said that from their first interaction with Apollo they realised the two businesses had "real synergies". "At Camperco we have a clear mission to become the first choice for campervan and motorhome rentals and sales in Europe," he added.
"We built our company up from five vans in 2007 and today we are a significant step closer to realising our ambition with Apollo's backing."
Apollo CEO Luke Trouchet said he was excited that the company will grow its operations into the UK and across Europe.
"This acquisition will further strengthen our position as a global operator of motorhomes and allow further expansion into Europe," he added.