Our history has always been about beautiful properties & bringing people joy
The history of Haulfryn begins with the Minoprio Family, originally from Pavia in northern Italy. In the late 18th Century the family established a branch in Frankfurt and it was from there that Franz Carl Anton Minoprio left for Liverpool. He founded the cotton merchant firm of Minoprio & Co, took British nationality and changed his name to Francis Charles Antony Minoprio. He was known and respected as a philanthropist with a social conscience and by the time of his death in 1893, had fathered 9 children and created the foundations on which the family’s future success was built.
When Francis died young his son Frank, just 23, took over the cotton business and shouldered responsibility for his mother and siblings. Fortunately, he had a genuine interest in business and an eye for a good investment. It was whilst on holiday with his family in 1908, in Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, that he recognised the beauty of the beaches and potential for holidays. He bought a strip of land on which he built a fine granite house which he called Haulfryn, meaning ‘sunny hill’.
Frank maintained an interest in investments throughout his life. In 1920 he sold the cotton business and retired to the Cotswolds from where he continued to invest and to build up his estate in North Wales. Like his father before him he believed in ‘putting something back’, and so contributed to building the primary school in Abersoch (Ysgol Abersoch) as well as giving the vast sum of £20,000 towards the purchase for the nation of Kenwood House in Hampstead.
By 1930 Frank was 60 years old. His accountants recommended that his property portfolio be removed from his estate and in 1935 The Haulfryn Estate Company was founded, with his wife and 9 children being shareholders. His sons Anthony, James and Hilary were to shape the fortunes and growth of the company right through to the 1970s, although Frank remained as Governing Director until he resigned in 1944, dying in 1951.
Anthony, the eldest, trained as an architect and was extremely successful in his chosen profession. He became Chairman of Haulfryn in 1944 and always had a keen eye for the visual importance and attention to detail of anything Haulfryn did. After leaving the Navy, James pursued a career in business, spending over 30 years in the City, mostly working in commodities. He brought a wealth of City experience to Haulfryn. It was left to Hilary, with his love for Abersoch and North Wales to become, at the age of 33, the company’s first Managing Director.
There was never any doubt about the company’s aim, which was to develop the land at The Warren, just down the road from the family holiday home at Abersoch. Since the 1930’s holidaymakers had been parking their caravans on The Warren on a casual basis and the first caravan site licence was obtained in 1948. Development started and was pushed through even though funds were so tight that several other properties had to be sold. Haulfryn House itself was re-mortgaged – but it was worth it. By the start of the 1960’s The Warren was a model park, extremely popular and turning a profit. Haulfryn had survived its start-up years.
Could the success at the Warren be repeated elsewhere? To help the planned growth the company began to employ professional non family members to take senior positions. This brought new ideas and new possibilities, avoiding the parochial attitudes that have cramped so many family businesses. Donald Songhurst joined the company in 1963 as General Manager. Within a year he bought a park at Nefyn, also on the Llyn Peninsula. Soon after, he leased a park in Barmouth and another on Anglesey. He persuaded the company to raise additional capital from 3i and bought further parks. By 1969 Songhurst wanted to set up on his own and left the company. The business had increased but there was a heavy expenditure programme and a need to borrow more. Turnover was up but profits were down. The closing years of the 1960’s were not happy ones for Haulfryn.
The 1970’s were years of further expansion. In 1972 the freehold of Barmouth Bay was bought and Gimblet Rock followed in 1973. Crugan, another park on the Llyn, was bought in 1975. Hilary Minoprio retired the same year after 30 years as Managing Director, remaining Chairman. His nephew Andrew took over in his stead, with Quinton Minoprio as Deputy Chairman. Glan Gors was added to the portfolio in 1977 and other business possibilities were chased, including a department store in Pwllheli, far away from the original intention to develop The Warren.
Hilary Minoprio died in 1980 and in some respects the company wavered for a time. In October 1982 Quinton was asked by the Board to take on the dual role of Chairman and Managing Director, a position he was admirably suited to, having grown up in Abersoch. Quinton acted fast and decisively and upset the comfortable culture that had built up in the 1970’s, cutting overheads and making the company a much leaner and fitter business. He recognised the value of excellence, no more so than in the design and construction of holiday homes. He became an innovator who raised and set standards within the entire industry. New homes began to appear, designed and manufactured exclusively for Haulfryn. The company was on the move. In 1985 the company invested in an outdoor pool complex at The Warren, and in 1986 was recognised as one of the leaders in the industry.
Expansion beyond Wales followed. In 1990 Haulfryn was able to buy 7 residential parks in the South of England that traded as Surrey Park Homes, starting Haulfryn’s Residential Parks Division. In addition, 4 further parks were purchased from the Gowring Group bringing to an end what was called the ‘Quin era’, with Quinton retiring as Chairman in 2000.
In 2000 Stephen Minoprio and Richard Minoprio, grandsons of the founder, became Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively. This continued the strong theme of family involvement in the business. With the Chief Executive Rod Tucker a period of expansion followed with strategic moves into the South West and South East. In total the company’s estate doubled in 10 years, to 20 holiday and 15 residential parks. Investment continued in existing parks to meet the rising expectations of the customer, bringing new technology and high quality leisure features.
Despite difficulties faced during the pandemic, Haulfryn propelled into the 2020s by continuing to raise standards, expectations, and accountability. Significant investment was made into improving facilities for our guests/owners across several parks. Devon Hills opened a state-of-the-art leisure complex, The Warren unveiled a brand new luxury spa and the Sandbar, a seafront bar & restaurant and Finlake introduced Finlake Falls, which boasts flumes, a gym, as well as a luxury spa.
We completely transformed our dining facilities, introducing freshly prepared and locally sourced menus in our restaurants as well as the launch of new lounge, bar and café eating concepts. This gave even more choice for our visitors and residents – from big breakfasts, light lunches, tempting snacks or cocktails overlooking the sea view and with a focus on plenty of healthy eating options – something for everyone.
Today, under the direction of Chief Executive Officer Bobby McGhee, we remain one of the UK’s most experienced and trusted owners of prestigious holiday and residential parks and we will continue to invest to ensure our leisure, dining and entertainment facilities and services are of the highest standards possible – all aimed at exceeding the needs of our residents, holiday homeowners and guests.
We are committed to continued investment in park maintenance and improvement, facilities, products and services to meet the changing needs and wants of our residents, holiday homeowners and holiday makers – all with the aim of bringing them the joy of now.
Family values have been at the heart of our business since we were founded over 85 years ago, and we will always place great importance on caring for and supporting our fantastic team members, suppliers and the local communities in which our parks are located. By working together, we will achieve our best successes, bringing more joy to people’s lives and providing the great service and experience we are known for.