Well-respected British van converter WildAx Motorhomes has been bought by the Rapido Group – the latest in a series of takeovers in the UK motorhome industry this year.

The West Yorkshire-based company is the French group’s first acquisition in Britain, which it describes as “an essential country in the universe of recreational vehicles”.

It already owns Westfalia in Germany and Fleurette in its home country. Alongside Rapido itself, it also manufactures the Dreamer and Itineo brands.

Rapido Group says the WildAx acquisition allows it to strengthen its presence in key European markets.

The WildAx story

Duncan Wildman founded WildAx 12 years ago.

He has seen it grow every year since then, to the point where it now produces 150 ’vans a year

Wildman told Practical Motorhome he had been hoping to move to larger premises from its current rather hemmed-in site in Elland, just south of Halifax, and had been planning changes to the company’s way of working.

He adds that he’s impressed by the “nice feel to the management team” at family-run Rapido.

“I was reassured by this that we would have a good working relationship and be able to work together to grow the company,” he said.

Maintaining brand values

Rapido’s directors, Pierre and Nicolas Rousseau, said: “We are very proud to work with Duncan who has a high customer value and product knowledge.

“This co-operation will certainly help to create a strong network and enhance customer satisfaction.”

Although Rapido does own Westfalia, Wildman said the group runs each of its divisions as completely separate operations, so there would be no “co-operation” between the two brands.

He explained: “We will be altering the way we build, not in the specifics of how the ’vans are built, but more in the processes and manpower usage.”

The acquisition comes just weeks after Lunar acquired Wellhouse Leisure, although it seems to have taken the industry much more by surprise.