Former owner of Chesterfield’s Robinsons Caravans says he "cannot understand" how its assets "evaporated"

The former owner of Chesterfield’s Robinsons Caravans says he and his family find it “difficult to understand” profits its business and assets “evaporated” after it was sold in 2019.
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David Robinson, 64, says his family name has been tainted by Robinsons shocking decline after being sold.

On March 15 the Brimington site was permanently closed and caravan owners descended on the premises to get their vehicles back.

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Several owners reported that their vehicles had been there for months and yet warranty work had not been completed.

David with mum Margaret in the Worksop shop in the late 1980sDavid with mum Margaret in the Worksop shop in the late 1980s
David with mum Margaret in the Worksop shop in the late 1980s

Administrators announced the 60-year-old business had gone bust and the loss of 16 jobs at the Brimington site the same day.

David worked for the family business – started by his parents John and Margaret Robinson – from the age of just 11.

The dad-of-two and former Robinsons director would work at the Chesterfield and Worksop sites during weekends and school holidays.

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When he was 18, after attending a college business course, he went full-time – at first running the Worksop site and later taking responsibility for sales at both locations before assuming overall responsibility for the business upon his parents retirement in 2007.

Aerial view of the Brimington siteAerial view of the Brimington site
Aerial view of the Brimington site
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Speaking about that time, he said: “It was different back then to what it has become - there were three caravan retailers in Chesterfield.

"Over the years, lots fell by the wayside and I guess my parents' dedication and sacrifices enabled Robinsons Caravans to continue to grow and develop into what it became.

"It saddens me to see our families commitment destroyed. It was long hours and hard work and we developed it into a business we were proud of."

The Brimington shopThe Brimington shop
The Brimington shop
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Speaking about Robinsons’ decline, David said: “We worked hard and were continually profitable from the start to when we sold in 2019.

"We kept our overheads under control and we retained money within the business to enable it to develop and cover the difficult trading times.”

In 2019, as he was approaching 60 and with fewer family members to contribute, David and his parents sold the business with assets of around £4m and 74 staff.

However, very shortly after he purchased the company new owner Paul Seabridge was unable to maintain payments for the sale and the business was sold to MBH Corporation - a PLC listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange - with the outstanding debt transferring to a bond maturing in 2025.

The Worksop showroomThe Worksop showroom
The Worksop showroom
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Last month David discovered that the directors of MBH intended to file for administration, however the family is still owed a "substantial” sum of money from the sale.

He said: "Disappointing as it is that we won’t get paid, our overriding feeling is sorrow for the loyal staff, customers and suppliers affected and of disappointment that the family name is tainted by the method of closure after all the hard work we put in to get the business to where it was has gone.

"Whether we like it or not it’s Robinsons name over the door, it's not MBH or anyone else that’s been involved since the takeover.

"The caravan and motorhome dealers had a very profitable period during the covid era and we find it difficult to understand where the money they must have made went and how the business assets that were there when we left have evaporated too.

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"We hope the administrators' investigations will provide answers.”

The Worksop site in 1987/8 prior to our redevelopment of the showroom buildingThe Worksop site in 1987/8 prior to our redevelopment of the showroom building
The Worksop site in 1987/8 prior to our redevelopment of the showroom building

A spokesperson for Interpath Advisory, who have been appointed as Robinsons administrators, said this month that "certain parts” of the business and its assets had been sold to a Storebon Holdings Limited, part of the Couplands Caravans group.

Robinsons has another dealership in Worksop and nine jobs at that site had been saved – with workers transferred to the purchaser as part of the transaction.

However, the Interpath spokesperson added: “The Robinsons Caravans site in Chesterfield is not included in the transaction and as a result, will close with immediate effect.

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"Consequently, 16 members of staff have been made redundant. The joint administrators will be providing support to all those impacted by redundancy, including assisting with claims to the redundancy payments service.”