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The BIG idea

PUBLISHED: 06:42 11 August 2014

Marcia and Trevor Holmes at their Norwich Camping and Leisure business in Blofield.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Marcia and Trevor Holmes at their Norwich Camping and Leisure business in Blofield. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

Tell us a little about the Norwich Camping and Leisure story.

My father started the business as a wallpaper shop in Gladstone Street, Norwich, called Colourscope. In 1973 we acquired the site on South Hill Road, from where we started selling a few tents from a shed! We did well from there and added a larger shop on Magdalen Street, called Sports and Leisure, and in 1989 we developed the South Hill Road site into a bigger camping and leisure business.

The business continued to grow until we moved into our current location in Blofield in 2004. We call this the Leisure Village, which includes a fantastic choice of outdoor and leisure equipment, from camping and caravanning accessories to barbecues, garden furniture and much more. But we also have a fully stocked garden centre and a coffee shop. It’s been 40 years and three generations to bring us to today.

What is the ethos of your business and of the Leisure Village?

We have been an independent family business for three generations. We aim to provide the best customer service, and pledge to give our customers not just the best service but the best value we can. We are genuine in our desire to please our customers. We are always trying to find something new and exciting to add to our range and unique choice of products at Norwich Camping and Leisure, many of which are not seen elsewhere in East Anglia. Choice and selection are our key words and we have on show 100 units - tents, caravan awnings and motor awnings.

How has the camping and leisure industry developed during your years of involvement?

Recently we have seen a number of new trends - firstly, camping and caravanning have become very popular again, with families choosing to stay in the UK and experience our wonderful country without having to travel long distances and spend a lot of money. This has become know as a “staycation”.

Secondly, the growth in the number of festivals, with many young people becoming interested in camping with their friends buying “pop-up” tents, and thirdly more established families wanting to experience a little luxury during their camping trips, which is delightfully known as “glamping”!

We have also seen a big development in the specifications available on tents and caravans - with satellite TVs, full size showers, heating and air conditioning. Going camping now is a real home away from home, with matching carpets and furniture available for your tent. There are also many developments in technology, with resin weave outdoor furniture and airbeam tubes which reduce the weight of the traditional tent poles significantly. Outdoor entertainment has become bigger and better, with large gas barbecues, patio heaters and now the latest big thing, the pizza oven.

What particular challenges does the Norfolk outdoors/holiday business face at the moment and how is Norwich Camping and Leisure rising to them?

Clearly the internet has given us both increased competition and the opportunity to sell our wonderful range to a wider audience. This keeps us on our toes and make us even more determined to provide a high level of service when customers come to visit us in person, whether they are starting out as new camping and caravanning converts, returning after many years or wanting to get that garden into shape. There is a good mixture of camping and caravan sites in this region, which will help bring tourists to the area.

So Trevor, what is Norwich Camping and Leisure’s Big Idea for driving forward Norfolk’s leisure industry?

Our business is located in a part of the country which is a bug tourist destination and we are lucky enough to have the beautiful East Anglia coast and the Broads within easy reach of our business. As transport links to this area are improving, we are expecting to see a further rise in tourism, and all local businesses need to continue to work together to provide a top level of service to ensure they come back again!

Norwich Camping and Leisure, The Leisure Village, 58 Yarmouth Road, Blofield, Near Norwich, NR13 4LQ; 01603 717600; www.norwichcamping.co.uk

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