Holiday homes market leader Willerby has been named Manufacturer of the Year in a prestigious awards ceremony.
Hull-based Willerby was honoured at the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards, one of the most celebrated events of its kind in the North of England, with judges saying it “set a gold standard for excellence”.
The award, coming in Willerby’s 75th anniversary year, recognises the company’s role at the forefront of the holiday homes industry’s recovery from the impact of COVID-19.
The flagship event, attended by hundreds of guests at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds and hosted by BBC and Times Radio presenter Chloe Tilley, attracted record entries this year from Yorkshire’s biggest and best companies.
The holiday homes sector is one of Yorkshire’s key industries, clustered in East Yorkshire and accounting for 20,000 jobs within the region.
Willerby’s submission highlighted how it responded to the challenges presented by the pandemic to capitalise on soaring demand for high-quality holiday homes, lodges and residential park homes resulting from the spike in popularity of staycations.
It also supported the wider sector at the height of COVID, encouraging a strong industry alliance. Willerby shared best practice with trade bodies and competitors, particularly around COVID-secure manufacturing processes, and provided extensive support to its supply network.
The entry included how Willerby has accelerated investment to transform manufacturing processes. This included introducing the market-leading Willerby Gold Standard, a step change in manufacturing standards and quality control, along with improvements to production efficiency.
The submission also detailed the company’s unrivalled reputation for quality, design, technological innovation and breadth of product range.
Willerby’s pursuit of environmental excellence also formed part of the entry, including its investment of £1.2m in two 1MW biomass boilers to heat production facilities, replacing a conventional heating system and saving 1,000 tonnes of CO² annually.
The company gives careful consideration to the environment in all its operations. The focus is particularly strong in manufacturing, including through the use of recycled materials and energy-efficient appliances and fittings, as well as sustainable waste management.
This year Willerby opened a fifth production line at its Hull site, increasing total capacity from 7,500 holiday homes annually to more than 8,000, and has recruited well over 200 additional staff over the past year, including more than 30 apprentices. It has an order book that is now full until well into 2023.
Peter Munk, CEO of Willerby, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be named Yorkshire Manufacturer of the Year.
“This recognition is testament to the outstanding efforts of the entire team who, in our 75th year, have overcome the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 to help the business achieve great success. I’m also incredibly proud we were able to support the wider industry during such a challenging period.
“I’d like to pay tribute to all our customers, partners and our hundreds of suppliers who have played an important part in our continued growth this year. This has been a true team effort across the board.
“We’ve ended the year stronger than ever, with a talented and growing workforce, and an incredibly bright future ahead of us. To claim the title of Yorkshire Manufacturer of the Year is the icing on cake.”
Recognising Willerby’s significant influence on the holiday homes industry, the awards judges said: “From sustainability to sharing best practices, Willerby set a gold standard for excellence in its field. It’s also a great corporate neighbour, sharing its skills base throughout the industry.”
The other companies shortlisted in the Manufacturer of the Year category were cleaning products business Astonish and security solutions firm Heald.