"I enjoyed lovely sunsets and microwave meals for one. But while trudging across the field to go to the shower in chilly, wet weather, I knew it was a short-term solution."
Matt Sims of The Motorhome Holiday Company
A serial entrepreneur set up an award-winning motor home company after he moved out of the family home – and into a caravan.
Matt Sims founded The Motorhome Holiday Company following the breakdown of his marriage and while at a ‘crossroads’ in his life.
Matt, now 49, who has launched nine business and sold several, was spurred on by his desire to provide for his four children and create memories of a lifetime for holidaymakers.
He said: “I decided to move into a caravan, which was both brilliant and dire. I was at a crossroads in life at a personal and professional level and looking for a way to move forward.
“I enjoyed lovely sunsets and microwave meals for one. But while trudging across the field to go to the shower in chilly, wet weather, I knew it was a short-term solution.”
Matt then set up The Motorhome Holiday Company, now in Hewish, near Weston – focusing on hiring and selling luxury motorhomes with a focus on great customer experience.
He said: “I saw the motorhome industry as one with huge potential to grow and I wanted to make it as accessible to as many people as possible.”
The UK motorhome market has continued to enjoy an increase in recent years and is at record levels since the pandemic, according to the NCC (National Caravan Council).
It is also increasingly appealing to a younger audience, which has been reflected by the changing client-base at The Motorhome Holiday Company.
Matt, who grew up in Ashton, Bristol, said: “Unlike caravans, anyone with a driving licence can drive a motorhome and it offers both freedom and comfort.
“Our customers were traditionally recent retirees but now it includes people in their early 20s looking for adventure and families with young children who want to travel in style.”
With this in mind, the team offers options such as free storage of your car while away, pet-friendly motors, try-before-you-buy and the MotorhomeEarn model- a chance to generate income from your motorhome.
Matt, who has since moved to a home in Blagdon, said his children have supported the business – from helping to review motorhomes to working in the shop.
The firm, which has won several industry awards, has also launched That Leisure Shop, a camping and accessory shop which has both a store onsite and online. The team also launched the Staycation Inspiration magazine, with travel guidance.
Matt, a former St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School pupil, said: “My children are the motivator to make this work and it’s great that they can get involved too. We have a great team, who make sure our customers are well- looked after.”
Business bought for £2
Matt has experienced his share of ups and downs in business and learned lessons along the way.
Matt, who studied media and production planning at what is now the City of Bristol College, toured as a sound engineer and technician for live acts such as U2 during the 1990s.
He said he got a lucky break when he had to fill-in for a job last minute and quickly learned the value of strong connections.
He went on to work as a corporate events manager for a company which rapidly expanded, giving Matt chance to buy a part of the business.
Matt met with the directors at McDonalds one morning and bought the event management side of the company for £2 – as that was the only spare change he had on him.
He said: “It was a cheeky gesture on my part. Event management and production was no longer core to their business and they didn’t have the resources to invest fully in that area.
“They were happy to part with it and I was invited to make an offer. The £2 coin had not long been launched and I happened to have one in my pocket, so I slid it across the table.
“The financial director smiled and shook my hand saying ‘congratulations, you just bought the business.”
He took the business from start-up to an internationally acclaimed firm, with strong growth in the UK and Abu Dhabi.
The role involved frequent international travel and as Matt’s family grew, he sold his share to invest in a new venture in the leisure industry, a move which would mean he could spend more time at home.
He later sold his share in Family Travel Centre business to focus on expansion in the motorhome industry.
Matt said: “I learned the need for managing growth and cashflow from the event management venture.
“I also learned the importance of having open conversations and to be prepared to change if a business no longer fits with your desired lifestyle or aspirations.”