Plankbridge, a luxury hut maker, has reported a significant rise in turnover of 30% as more Brits opt to create luxurious offices in their gardens. The company specializes in crafting bespoke shepherd’s huts, complete with kitchens and showers, with prices starting at £22,500. These huts have gained popularity not only in the UK but also abroad, with exports reaching as far as the USA and Switzerland.
While Plankbridge initially experienced an increase in orders from individuals looking to capitalize on their land by establishing boutique staycation businesses, the past year has seen a surge in interest from customers seeking to set up a home office in their gardens. The company has witnessed a 70% surge in inquiries, leading to a 30% boost in turnover in 2020.
Plankbridge, founded by Richard Lee and Jane Dennison in 2000, is based in a 15,000 square-foot hangar near Dorchester, Dorset. The company employs 24 staff members who work on approximately 10 hand-made huts at a time, with each hut requiring around six weeks to complete. Plankbridge maintains strong connections with local suppliers within a 10-mile radius, sourcing timber and fixings, thereby supporting the local economy. The chassis for the huts are supplied by Richard’s brother, based in Somerset.
The company offers two types of huts: the Snug and the wider Cabin, both of which can be customized. Clients order these huts for various purposes, including meditation spaces, saunas, and garden offices. The top-of-the-range bespoke huts can cost upwards of £55,000.
Funding Circle, the UK’s largest small business loan platform, has highlighted Plankbridge’s success. Over the past decade, Funding Circle has assisted more than 60,000 businesses in the UK. Plankbridge has previously utilized Funding Circle’s platform to secure loans for expanding their product range and entering overseas markets. The company has shipped huts to countries such as the USA, Portugal, France, and Switzerland, sourcing all timber from sustainably managed forests, including English Oak from the Crown Estate.
Richard Lee, co-founder of Plankbridge, expressed his sympathy for businesses adversely affected by the pandemic while acknowledging the demand their huts experienced due to lockdowns and remote working requirements. He also mentioned the company’s contribution to helping hospitality venues and start-up glamping businesses prepare for reopening and establish their venues.
Reflecting on Plankbridge’s growth journey, Richard emphasized the importance of maintaining momentum and responding to demand when expanding premises, hiring staff, and acquiring equipment. He credited Funding Circle for providing quick and suitable funding solutions, allowing the company to keep up with their growth trajectory.
Lisa Jacobs, Europe Managing Director at Funding Circle, commended Richard and Jane for their adaptability during challenging times. She expressed satisfaction in witnessing their talent and passion not only benefit their own business but also assist others in adapting, whether by providing additional work-from-home spaces or supporting aspiring entrepreneurs in setting up their own offices.