BOAT builders who lost their jobs in a city recently highlighted for its unemployment levels have jumped ship from their former industry – and are now using their skills to help construct luxury campervans.
They are among a number of craftsmen who are putting their skills to new use in Hull, which earlier this week was named in a report as being among the worst cities in the country for job creation.
They are working with Horizon MCV, which was set up in Witty Street, Hull, last October and has launched its first luxury multi-concept vehicles, with its Mercedes-Benz Vito range.
The company has hired 10 artisans of the city’s boat building community, along with other skilled workers, to help with the interiors.
Sales director James Burt said: “We have former boat builders, cabinet makers, people from the caravan industry – there’s a bit of everything really.
“A lot of it is quite precision building and cabinet making for the boat building industry is similar in terms of the skills needed.
“They all enjoy it very much as it is slightly different to what they have done before.
“They are in a nice, clean and new working environment and doing something that is unique. It’s very interesting for them.”
Hull fared badly in the recent Centre for Cities report, which said 10,000 jobs were lost in the decade up to 2013 with nothing to replace them.
But business leaders criticised the report, saying it took no account of developments in 2014, and of an upturn in optimism on the back of Hull being awarded the mantle of City of Culture for 2017.
Other developments, such as the forthcoming Siemens offshore wind turbine facility, which will bring 1,000 jobs, have also created a feeling that the city is on the up.
Lord Haskins, chairman of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, said the area was making encouraging progress, and Mr Burt said he was surprised at the findings of the report.
“I am not from Hull originally but I love living here. We do a lot of national motorhome shows which are great for us, and people always ask where we are building these things.
“We say Hull and in the past you would always get a bit of a look.
“But nowadays we get a different reaction, and people seem to have a bit more respect.”
The vans are aimed at the higher end of the market and are available in two versions, the Vito and the Vito Sport.
They are designed to act as a premium, robust vehicle for day to day use, while providing a high end living space for weekends away and long distance tours.