Swift - for 50 years consistently ahead
Swift is the UK's largest and one of the world's largest manufacturers of caravans, motorhomes, and recently also recreational cottages. Although the history of the brand began 50 years ago, the son of the founder remains the president of the company to this day.
The company's history began in 1964 in the city of Hull in the eastern part of Great Britain, on the banks of the Humber River. It was there that Ken Smith and Ken Day jointly built a caravan, which became the nucleus of the company. They named the trailer The Ten - ten. They managed to sell it for £ 289.
Not much later, the partners said goodbye, and Smith and his wife became the sole owners of the then fledgling production plant. Who would have thought then that Swift would become a powerhouse, and products from the factory would be exported to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand? And that's what it is today, with Swift having 900 employees and an annual turnover of £ 200 million .
In the 60s of the twentieth century, nothing foreshadowed such a great success. Anyway, the history of the brand lacks spectacular twists. The best position in the UK has been achieved through continuous organic growth, smart management, and successful acquisitions of other companies related to the caravanning industry . Today Swift is a group that brings together many brands, once independent and competing with each other.
Three windows to the world
In 1966, Swift employed 8 people to manufacture the Clubman and Valken models, followed by the successful Alouette and Silhouette trailers. Soon the number of employees increased to 30, and then to 50. There were also the first orders from abroad - from West Germany and Denmark.
An important milestone for Swift was the introduction in 1968-1969 of the Rapide model with its characteristic triple window at the front of the trailer . Customers quickly liked the large glass surfaces. So much so that this solution is still the hallmark of Swift caravans to this day.
Expansion in Great Britain
At the end of the 1960s, Swift was already producing about 400 trailers a year , and the area covered by the factory halls was gradually expanding. After all, you had to look for a new place. They were found near the previous one - in the Cottingham district of the city of Hull. Both factories are approximately 15 minutes away by car. A production center with an area of 15 thousand square meters was built in the new location. square feet, i.e. approx. 4.5 square kilometers
In 1971, when the dealer network already numbered 30 points of sale , the Swift Owners Club was also created, created by 40 trailer owners who are also fans of the brand. Let us add that only a few companies can boast of fans associating in clubs - the lucky ones include Harley Davidson and just Swift.
Death is not the end
An important era came to an end in Swift in 1972. The day after a very successful caravanning fair, the founder of the company suddenly died. Then the company passed into the hands of the wife and son. The son - Peter Smith - remains the company's president to this day.
However, the death of the founder did not slow down the company's development. An interesting fact is that Swift caravans began to take part in the British Caravan Road Rally - that is, in car racing with caravans.
In 1976, the brand's offer included a Corniche caravan, which was luxurious at that time. It was one of the factors that contributed to the increase in production to 1,500 vehicles per year. Employment in the factory has increased to 140 people.
Romance with computers
In the 1980s, the company began to approach the construction of caravans more scientifically, including by conducting wind tunnel and road tests, as well as starting design using a computer. One of the first effects of the new approach was the creation of the world's first trailer equipped with a roof spoiler .
It is worth noting that in 1984-1985 Swift began to use GRP - a glass-fiber reinforced plastic - in its trailers . This has become a milestone not only for the brand, but for caravanning in general. At the same time, Swift also started creating van-based motorhomes. Kon-Tiki models achieved the greatest popularity in Great Britain and, unexpectedly, in Scandinavia.
Between 1986 and 1988 - the new Corniche set new standards in the industry, becoming the first trailer built with one-piece GRP profiles (front, rear and roof were made of one piece).
The two-axle Challenger also appeared in the late 1980s, with air conditioning and air conditioning as an option. At that time, such a caravan could be considered the pinnacle of luxury.
Swift also means acquisitions of other companies. Cotswold Coachcraft was purchased in 1989, Abbey in 1992, and Bessacarr in the second half of the 1990s. Swift was always buying something, thus combining his own and others' experiences.
Swift only became number 1 in the UK in 1995. It is worth mentioning that quite standard and inherently affordable Sundance motorhomes, based on Fiat Ducato, strongly contributed to this success.
Always two steps ahead of others
10 years later, Swift for £ 8 million opened a modern factory covering an area of 11 square kilometers . Subsequent investments made it possible to create a new construction of polyurethane trailers - very durable and resistant to water. Currently, all Swift trailers have a structure defined by the manufacturer as SMART HT .
Today, the distinguishing feature of Swift caravans is also the third category of insulation , which means that these vehicles can be used without fear even when the outside temperature is -15 degrees Celsius.
The company also remains faithful to the use of a triple window. And even quadruple, because since 2011, Swift's caravans have been equipped with a characteristic sunroof connecting the front wall with the roof. Thanks to this, the caravan of the British brand is difficult to confuse with any other.
Sometimes it is better to get lost than to ask for directions too much. Aldous Huxley