An award-winning entrepreneur from North Wales has set up the UK’s first dedicated glamping construction company.
Gareth Jones, head of the Carbon Zero Group, is aiming to build on a tripling of turnover in 2015 with ambitious expansion plans, taking on up to 17 new members of staff to take the total workforce to 35.
Glamping, or luxury camping, is becoming increasingly popular and Gareth believes it’s the right time to tap into the growing market.
The glamping market is set to be worth £1.8 billion in the UK in 2017 and Gareth believes there is huge potential in Wales, especially as 2016 has been designated as the Year of Adventure by the Welsh Tourism and Culture Minister Ken Skates.
Gareth, who lives in Old Colwyn and is based in St Asaph, is offering customers complete packages, including planning, design, construction and even the furnishing.
Gareth is also planning to expand his renewable energy company, Carbon Zero, into Ireland where new tariffs are making solar power an attractive proposition.
In addition, he’s joined forces with former TV Gladiator Diane Youdale aka Jet to run courses to combat absenteeism at work via his training company, You Train, which he established with fellow Director Steve Williams.
Gareth, the North Wales President of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “We’re expanding our existing offices in St Asaph and opening a new office in Mochdre to allow us to grow and create new employment opportunities, so it’s an exciting year and we’re looking forward to 2016 and beyond.
“We still see solar as a big part of our business, with other technologies such as battery storage coming online in the coming months, thanks to the likes of Tesla and its Powerwall.
“But the biggest part of the growth of the group is the leisure business, and it’s got potential for significant growth.
“We are the UK’s first dedicated glamping construction company as we will be concentrating solely on building glamping sites.
“We’re working with existing camping and caravan sites to utilise areas of land that may not be suitable for existing business but would be perfect for glamping pods, and domes, which offer a fantastic return as an investment.
“In Wales, 2016 is the Year of Adventure so we feel that the timing is perfect and we’re looking to install around 1,000 accommodation units over the next five years that will generate hundreds of millions of pounds into the Welsh Economy.
“Glamping is ideal for North Wales. We’ve got an abundance of fantastic hotels but what we are lacking is alternative accommodation like glamping which is going to be perfect for your adventure seekers as well as family breaks. We’re offering packages to suit both sectors.
“We’ve got two packages currently. The first package is aimed at your weekend breaks and is an eco dome designed two people. It comes with solar powered ventilation, a log burner, decking and a hot tub.
“The other package that we offer is a six berth safari tent which again comes with deck and a hot tub, and this is aimed at your family stay instead of a static caravan. It’s a full self-catering accommodation with en suite, with a full kitchen, with everything including a 4 poster bed!
“All our packages come fully furnished so the only thing the client has to do once we’ve finished is to put the towels in and put the bedding on the bed, and that’s it.
“We’ve had a fantastic response. We’ve had lots and lots of caravan and camping park owners interested and we’ve already been in talks for a project in the Denbighshire area for a site for 10 of the eco domes. We have also been considered for an innovation award for our unique business In a growing sector.
“It really is a fantastic business opportunity because the investment should pay for itself within two years with a return on investment of more than 30 per cent.
“As well as the glamping opportunity. We’re also really excited about the potential of the solar market in Ireland, where they have a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint by 40 percent by 2050 so there’s huge potential there.
“They have identified solar power as a key ingredient in the mix, not least because it is very quickly and easily deployed.
“They are creating a tariff scheme, very similar to here in the UK, where if you have solar panels fitted you’ll get paid for it.
“Because the Irish market is very new, there are very few installers there so we believe there is a very good opportunity for an experienced installer like us to go and develop a successful business in Ireland We are the largest solar installer closest to the market and feel we are in a great position to capitalise on this opportunity.