Camping and outdoors specialist to glamp’ up growth thanks to funding

Left to right: Chris Fawcett, Director of BCT Outdoors and Jonathan Craig, Finance Yorkshire Investment Manager

A Bradford-based tent and marquee specialist is venturing into the field of luxury ‘glamping’ with new product lines thanks to a £70,000 investment from Finance Yorkshire.

Building on its 100-year pedigree, BCT Outdoors is now looking to capitalise on the current trend for ‘glamping’ – ‘glamorous camping’ on holiday or at music festivals – which involves more luxurious accommodation and facilities than those traditionally associated with the outdoors.

The company – which started in 1896 as Bradford Cover and Twine Company – manufactures tents for youth groups, tour and adventure holiday operators as well as garden marquees and soft play equipment for individual as well as large international clients.

BCT Outdoors Director Chris Fawcett said: “The company's success relies heavily on research and development and listening to customers, and this philosophy, backed by traditional skills, has enabled the company to build a large customer base both at home and abroad.

“Everything in our collection is manufactured at our Bradford factory - we do not import any tents.

“We were looking to bring more new glamping, as well as soft play products, to market but designing and registering the products - as well as the machinery to bring them into production – can be a costly process.

“Our accountant Richard Doyle at Auker Rhodes suggested we approach Finance Yorkshire and they were very straightforward to deal with.”

The investment has helped Chris expand and improve various areas of the BCT business.

Chris said: “As well as new glamping products, we have now been able to design and launch a children’s portable play frame suitable for use in crèches, pubs, shops and at home.”

The company has also used the investment to print new brochures and catalogues, purchase a branded vehicle for deliveries and improve its website by adding an ‘e-commerce’ section enabling customers to buy direct from an online shop.

Chris added: “The money also helped pay for us to attend an exhibition, the Motorhome, Caravan and Camping Show in London, where we met a lot of new contacts and raised our profile further in the industry.

“Our order books are full for the next few months and then the new product lines will kick in. We’ve done all the spade work by researching and developing these products and we’re now ready for the company to grow.”

Finance Yorkshire Investment Manager Jonathan Craig said: “Chris knew in order to grow the company it couldn’t stand still. But BCT Outdoors are not alone in finding that in order to research, develop, manufacture and promote products, more working capital was required to underpin the growth strategy and that’s where Finance Yorkshire can help.

“The company is also a great example of what a Yorkshire organisation can achieve. The business may be more than a century old, but Chris and his team are continuing to innovate by ensuring their products reflect current trends and therefore remain popular with customers all over the UK.

“It is also heartening to see a well-established Yorkshire business that is keeping traditional skills and jobs in the region by manufacturing its own products.”

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £30million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, £15million from Yorkshire Forward’s Single Programme, and £45million match funding from the European Investment Bank.

For more information about Finance Yorkshire, please visit or ring 0845 649 0000.

Note: this news article is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire