Discover our History
Our colourful heritage
In 1986 the first ever Coachman caravan was hand built in a small factory in Hull, East Yorkshire. Thirty years later, while the production line looks very different, we have maintained our reputation for excellent craftsmenship and high quality build and design.
In the begining
Laying the foundations
In the years following WWII, the British public embraced caravanning. By the 1960s, caravan sales were booming, with Hull and East Yorkshire becoming the centre of the manufacturing industry. Ace Caravans was one of these new manufacturers. Founded in 1962, it grew quickly, and by 1972 had become ABI Caravans – a major player.
After deciding on a name that reflected the quality of the tourers the company wanted to produce, Coachman Caravans was formed in late 1986. Establishing a manufacturing plant in Hull, the company began to create its first range – the Coachman.
The coachmen are coming
This range consisted of four layouts covering two, four and five berths. These were quality tourers, built on AL-KO galvanised chassis, with bonded side panels and GRP front moulded units with three windows. They were well equipped for the time, with contemporary, plush interiors, full mains electricity, a shower, oven and fridge.
Business continues to grow
Coachman Caravans was in business – it was forcing a path into the market, and taking sales from the more established brands. Sales took off and, in 1988, the Coachman line-up expanded with the launch of a new luxury range, the VIP. With features like blown air heating, a full oven, fully equipped showers and a luxury finish, it was an instant success. It’s remained a popular model in the line-up ever since.
The lightweight family tourer
The business continued to grow, and Coachman introduced its first entry-level, lightweight family tourer in 1989 - The Mirage. Designed to offer Coachman quality and high specification at an affordable price, it proved popular with first-time buyers.
Coachman had arrived – by the end of the decade, the company had established a strong reputation for quality and innovation, and was growing fast. Backed up by a strong workforce and a management team that understood what caravanners were looking for, the future looked bright…
The early 1990s were a challenging time for the caravan industry
Despite the difficult environment, Coachman continued to thrive – the dealer network grew and sales expanded. The company needed to double manufacturing capacity to keep up with growing demand, and invested heavily in new equipment and a factory extension.
The Coachman Owners' Club
In 1993, a group of Coachman enthusiasts formed The Coachman Owners' Club and held the first rally in May at Ranksborough Hall in Rutland. The club has prospered ever since, and enjoys an excellent relationship with Coachman to this day. Its feedback has helped to shape the development of our tourer ranges ever since.
A growing range
Genius, Mirage and VIP
Coachman continued to develop and enhance the Genius, Mirage and VIP ranges throughout the mid 1990s, using the latest computer aided design systems to improve the aesthetics and aerodynamic profile of the caravans. Other innovations included moving the models to the new AL-KO Euro-axle with shock absorbers, and the addition of flexible new layouts to suit a growing range of customers.
Continued development, renewed independence
In 2000, the Pastiche was launched to replace the Genius. Positioned between the Amara and VIP, this range of five high quality, well-specified touring caravans would prove instantly popular with couples and families alike.
By 2001 Jim and Verle Hibbs had decided that the time was right to break away from the Explorer Group. After a management buyout headed up by Jim Hibbs, Coachman was an independent manufacturer once more.
2004 Renewed independence
Focused on the quality and design
Coachman purchased three acres of land, extending the factory by 30,000 square feet as part of a £1.5 million development. Coachman focused on developing the quality and design of its tourers, developing a stringent new testing process and introducing a new three year warranty in 2004.
2006 New Layouts
Results in Several Industry Awards
2006 saw the introduction of a new wider shell for the Laser, Pastiche and VIP, whilst new layouts and enhanced specification were introduced across the ranges. The reaction from the caravan press was overwhelmingly positive, with Coachman picking up nearly a dozen industry awards between 2004 and 2006.
Big Changes to Caravan Design
Amara brought up to date
Following years of expansion, investment and development, Coachman began the new decade by planning a major overhaul of its caravan designs. This began in 2011 with big changes to the popular Amara range to bring it up to date.
Invest and Expand
important year in our History
The Coachman factory was further extended by an additional 5,000 square feet as well as buying land to increase the tourer storage area by an acre.
Coachman added a key new member of staff in 2014, with Jim Hibbs’ son Elliot Hibbs joining the firm, with a view to running the company and taking it forward from 2017.
2014 The Year of Innovation
Advanced Bonded Construction
In early 2014 Coachman also began working with Bostik, the global leaders in adhesive solutions, to develop the ABC system. Utilising the latest adhesives and swapping out wood for advanced polyurethane (PU), enabling Coachman to make all its caravans stronger and lighter, whilst virtually eliminating the threat of water ingress.
2016 Coachman undergoes Management Buy-out
Many more successful years ahead
Led by four members of its current senior management team. The MBO led by Elliot Hibbs, who is the company’s Managing Director, ensures that Coachman remains in the family after taking over from his father Jim Hibbs, who will continue his close links with the company by staying on as a consultant for the next few years.