A duo who spent more than 30 years flogging luxury cars are now they’re getting into the up-market caravan game.
A duo who spent more than 30 years flogging luxury cars are now they’re getting into the up-market caravan game.

High profile car dealers chase upscale caravan market

HIT THE ROAD JACK

They spent more than 30 years flogging luxury cars.

Now Brisbane business partners Martin Roller and Marvin Burke are branching out into a related area that appears to have huge growth potential.

The pair have just announced plans to get into the high-end caravan market as the Aussie love affair with hitting the open road reaches new heights of popularity thanks in part to our inability to travel overseas.

They have snared the exclusive Queensland franchise for Roadstar, a Melbourne-based outfit which has been in the manufacturing game for 30 years.

To kick things off, Roller and Burke have signed a two-year lease on a former Ford dealership at the busy corner of Anzac and Oxley avenues in Redcliffe, with plans to throw open the doors on February 1. It will trade under the banner of Caravana Queensland.

Marvin Burke and Martin Roller
Marvin Burke and Martin Roller

The gents are tipping in more than $3m to get the project off the ground, with hopes of selling about 250 new caravans this year and about the same amount of the used variety with the help of industry veteran Brendan Saggers.

They also plan to turn the site into something of a one-stop shop, complete with a service centre. SUVs will be sold on site too, as well as fit-out packages for the caravans, which start at about $60,000 and go as high as $165,000 for the fanciest new ones.

"The market is expanding,'' Roller told City Beat this week.

"It's flying with a whole lot of new entrants, including young families. COVID has really given it a shot in the arm.''

Studies appear to back up that claim, with Queensland accounting for about a third of all nationwide sales in the $2.6bn a year industry.

The latest data from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia shows that visitor nights exceeded 60 million for the first time in 2019 following strong growth over the past decade.

Dealers last year did huge business as the pandemic forced consumers to organise domestic holidays, a trend actively encouraged by state and federal governments.

The latest gambit for Roller and Burke caps a partnership dating back to the late 1990s when they acquired Brisbane's BMW dealerships. They grew it to include Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Volvo, eventually turning over about $250m a year before selling the business in late 2018.

The duo got back into the auto game early last year, opening a used car centre in Windsor, but relations with a third party quickly soured and they walked away.

Roller is also active in the kids fitness sector via MyFirstGym, which has six centres in Brisbane and plans to grow across south east Queensland.

TWO BIRDS IN THE HAND

Consolidation continues in the craft beer industry as it aims to recover this year from the pandemic body blow.

We learned this week that Gold Coast-based Fermentum, the parent company of Stone & Wood, has acquired Two Birds Brewing, which claims to be Australia's first female-owned brewing outfit.

Danielle Allen and Jayne Lewis, founders of Two Birds Brewery
Danielle Allen and Jayne Lewis, founders of Two Birds Brewery

Co-founders Jayne Lewis and Danielle Allen launched their award-winning enterprise in Melbourne 10 years ago and their brand will remain as a distinct business unit.

Details of the acquisition price were not disclosed by Fermentum, which saw its net profit slump 25 per cent to just over $5m in the last financial year largely as a result of the lockdown squeeze.

At the same time, Fermentum is still actively looking at how to fund a shovel-ready new brewery capable of churning out 40 million litres but which could eventually scale up to 80 million litres.

With an initial cost estimated at $50m, various finance options are under the microscope, including a possible IPO.

A FEW BICKIES

Well, this will buy you a few bickies.

The great-great-grandson of Arnott's Biscuits founder William Arnott has just pocketed about $8.2m for a Noosa Heads unit which sold only four days after listing.

Owner Michael Arnott listed the three-bedroom apartment at that figure but the final sale price has yet to be disclosed.

Records show he acquired the Hastings Street property for a mere $760,000 back in 1993.

It's one of nine large apartments on the side of a hill, with the 298 sqm residence overlooking Noosa Main Beach with views north to Double Island Point.

The previous sale in the tightly-held block of blue-chip units was $4.5m in 2015.

Sought-after premium properties were already in demand at Noosa but the pandemic has driven prices even higher, with agents striking multimillion dollars deals in days. Limited turnover and a population cap have also worked in favour of sellers.

Agent Tom Offerman said the Arnott unit was purchased by one of his clients in-waiting, desperately trying to get a toehold in the area's property market.

HORROR START

Robbie Cooke has had a horror start to 2021.

The former Brisbane bizoid, who used to head up Wotif and Tatts, now lords over loss-making banking group Tyro, which is one of the country's biggest providers of eftpos services.

A technical glitch over the past week has seen thousands of merchants unable to process payments from customers. Nearly a third of Tyro's 32,000 clients have been fully or partially impacted.

Robbie Cooke
Robbie Cooke

In an update released on Wednesday, the company said a 250-strong team has been deployed to collect and return defective eftpos terminals, with a turnaround time of two to four days.

It expects the majority of impacted merchants to be back to normal operations by the end of the week.

Cooke, who apologised for the stuff-up, has flagged the possibility of compensation to make amends.

ETHICAL INVESTING

Would you invest in tobacco or firearms?

How about tipping a few bucks into alcohol or opioid manufacturing?

Plenty of investors want to align their personal beliefs with where they park their money.

But new research suggest that plenty of us would happily look for higher returns even if it created a crisis of conscience.

While 80 per cent per cent of Aussie investors would not direct their funds in to something that violated core beliefs, the remaining 20 per cent would do just that, according to a review of data from asset management firm Schroders.

 

 

The study found nearly 29,000 online searches for "sustainable investments'' are carried out in Australia each year, with global warming, pollution and biodiversity loss the top-ranking concerns.

Almost two-thirds of these virtuous types say businesses can and should be doing more this year to combat a raft of environmental threats.

Originally published as High profile car dealers chase upscale caravan market


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