Enhancing Sales through Strategic Investment
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Arron Rampling
Since entering the trailer market and finding its feet in Australia, South Africa’s largest caravan manufacturer and wholesaler, Jurgens Ci, has been able to significantly expand its customer base and achieve sustainable growth levels. This is all while remaining focused on delivering a quality end product in line with the changing needs of its customers.
Formed more than 60 years ago by the Jurgens family, who immigrated to South Africa from the Netherlands, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Imperial Holdings has benefitted from diversifying its revenue streams, resulting in enhanced sales of camping accessories and equipment along with rapid sales growth in the trailer segment; in addition to its existing caravan business comprised of high quality, well-known brands including Jurgens, Sprite, Gypsey, Wilk and WJ Motorhomes.
“In 2008, after the Imperial Holdings acquisition the previous year, we began to make inroads into the trailer segment, identifying the luggage, off-road and camping trailer sectors as key new revenue stream areas. Jurgens Ci has rapidly gained market share and commands a 15 percent share in the former. It is now the leading brand in the latter two, commanding more than 35 percent market share,” recalls Bradley Salters, Managing Director of Jurgens Ci.
Local dealer network
Offering the most diverse range of caravan and camping products in South Africa today, through a franchised dealer network comprised of close-to 40 Campworld stores, Jurgens Ci’s position in the market is made all the more impressive by the Company’s adherence to European manufacturing standards, along with the relevant health and safety regulations.
Salters highlights: “By mirroring highly efficient manufacturing processes and technologies from overseas, we are proud to be the only volume producer of caravans in Africa offering a current product range of 14 caravans and eight trailer models ranging in price from a R12,000 trailer, all the way to a R800,000 motorhome.
“Essentially, through our dealer network, we have a full service offering from luxurious caravans, right down to small camping torches in addition to South Africa’s premier tent and camping equipment brand, Howling Moon.”
In order to maintain this dominant market position, the Jurgens Group operates a continuous improvement strategy that involves monitoring the changing needs of customers and requirements of the target market. With a product range very much focused on the broader outdoor lifestyle sector, the Company is able to demonstrate its deep industry understanding and apply this to its brands in the most relevant way possible.
Salters further details: “Product is key to maintaining our competitive advantage. In South Africa, we have a dedicated product design and development department at our two manufacturing facilities that work closely with both planning and production to ensure that the final products we create are as production-friendly as possible. The Company also employs a number of engineers who look at ways of optimising our efficiencies and, to this end, we have installed a second laser cutter and a steel punch. This has enabled us to produce components for trailers and chassis quicker and more efficiently.”
Enhanced product range
Following the launch of the quick-to-set-up canvas Wizz Tent last year, Jurgens Ci has big plans to both enhance its existing product range and launch new products in 2016.
“Many of our existing caravan brands are to receive a facelift,” says Salters. “For example, the three caravans in our Sprite range will receive new interior colours as well as an easy to use awning that is permanently mounted to the outside. Additionally, the Sprite Tourer models will receive new interior colours, canvas furniture, doors, bigger fridges and some minor exterior changes.”
“The biggest change is in the Tourer SP, which has been reconfigured into a comfortable, two berth caravan that offers a toilet and basin on the inside, and a shower head on the outside with a geyser. As a result of listening to our customers, we now offer a small caravan with all required services that can also be used in free-camping.”
To cater for families and bigger groups of campers, Jurgens Ci’s plans to launch the Safari XTC steel-based four berth caravan. This is a relatively niche luxury product that combines clever engineering and canvas tenting for a quick and easy setup for the more adventurous campers.
On the tent and camping equipment side, the Company plans to build on the initial success garnered from the recently launched Wizz Tent by designing different sizes, as well as further accessories, to enhance the usability of the product. Alongside this will be the launch of the Howling Moon Luna tent, a hard shelled pop-up rooftop or trailer tent.
“Our ability to introduce affordable products of a high quality that meet our customer needs will solidify our position in the market,” confirms Salter.
Since entering the Australian caravan market in 2009, Jurgens has leveraged the efficiencies of its main manufacturing facility in Ga-Rankuwa, near Pretoria, for the supply of all major components necessary for assembly. This is complemented by locally sourced appliances to prepare the caravans for delivery to a national network of dealerships.
This supply and distribution model has proved extremely efficient to date, with a total of 18 dealers across Australia, four of which sell Jurgens’ Caravans exclusively and the remaining 14 forming part of the Company’s franchised dealer network.
“Australia in particular is a key growth market for Jurgens Group. As we supply a large amount of the base product from South Africa, growth in Australia enhances both businesses. Combined with the high demand for our Howling Moon products in the UK, Europe and Australia, Jurgens is well-positioned to continue entrenching itself in these markets, while exploring further export opportunities when the time is right. We also have specific plans in Australia to strengthen our growth here over the next 12 months,” Salters explains.
With a strong leadership team that takes into account the local South African B-BBEEE staffing initiative, Salters believes that Jurgens Ci’s current activities will determine the Group’s long-term stability in the caravan, trailer, camping and accessories markets.
He concludes: “As we already have extensive market coverage, our focus therefore will be on improving our existing product range as well as the replacement of current ranges with entirely new models designed from the ground-up. Our commanding position in the RV market has already resulted in some very successful supply chain partnerships – including NCS Resigns, Dometic, Al-Ko, Hulamin, Tiger Wheel & Tyre and Alko Trailko – which we will continue to nurture going forward.
“Lastly, export opportunities will play a key role in growing our business further, which is why we have made sure to invest in all the right international manufacturing processes and quality standards to make our brands stand out wherever we may expand to.”