Firm which creates bespoke shepherd's huts sees demand soar by 70%

Shear luxury! Firm which manufactures bespoke shepherd’s huts says demand for their £22,500 cabins has soared by 70% as Britons create offices in their gardens during lockdown

  • Plankbridge, based in Dorchester, Dorset, offers two types to customers, the Snug and the wider Cabin 
  • Clients have ordered them for a number of uses, including meditation spaces, saunas and garden offices 
  • Created in the UK by a team of 24, they have been sent around the world to the USA, France and Switzerland 

A luxury hut maker whose bespoke designs start at £22,500 has reported a 70 per cent boom in demand as stuck-at-home Britons look to create offices in their gardens.

Plankbridge manufactures the bespoke shepherd’s huts which boast utilities such as kitchens and showers and export them as far as the USA and Switzerland.

Over the last year there has been a surge of interest from people looking to create offices in their gardens.

And as many businesses struggle to stay open, the firm’s 24 members of staff are busy creating the designs, leading to a reported 30 per cent rise in turnover.

Customers ordering the bespoke designs are using them as luxurious garden offices to hold video calls, saunas or places to sit around nature and meditate as they cope with lockdown life 

This customer chose to make their hut into a cosy looking sitting room, complete with a portable radio and a comfortable chair to sit and read alongside a roaring fire and a snazzy rug to cheer up grey days 

Plankbridge, formed in 2000 and based in Dorchester, Dorset, offers two types of huts – the Snug and the wider Cabin, with clients ordering these for a number of uses, including meditation spaces, saunas and garden offices.

Top-of-the-range bespoke designs typically cost from £55,000.

Richard Lee, Plankbridge co-founder, said: ‘The demand for our huts was certainly bolstered by lockdowns, working from home and the need for extra space to hunker down in.

‘I had big plans for where I wanted the business to be on my 50th birthday. On that very day we sent our staff home, as the whole supply chain stopped overnight.

‘When we returned, we picked up where we left off and the business continued to grow at a rapid pace.

‘We caught up with ourselves by the autumn, and with social distancing and regular cleaning in place, we have continued the upward trend, and have even been recruiting new staff.

Plankbridge has had a 70 per cent boom in customer queries during lockdown as people want to create tranquil offices in their gardens to take a break from working inside their homes. This one boasts a bed so people can sleep among the greenery 

This arty customer chose to use their luxury shepherd’s hut as a studio, not doubt taking inspiration from setting up their easel in their garden and making the most of the light pouring in from outside

The top-of-the-range option of bespoke hut cost from around £55,000. This airy office space looks more relaxing than computers set up on dining room tables inside homes with plenty of space for books, computers and a printer tucked out of the way

‘While we are busy, and remain positive, I feel a lot of sympathy for all those businesses so badly affected.

‘At least we are helping many hospitality venues to hit the ground running as soon as restrictions are lifted.

‘We have also helped many start up glamping businesses, guiding the new ‘glampreneurs’ as they set up their new venues.’

Huts have been shipped to the USA, Portugal, France and Switzerland, with all timber sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Some of the huts are being sent around the world with customers in the USA, Portugal, Spain and France among those looking to make the most of their time spent at home during the pandemic. This one looks at home surrounded by nature 

This customer looks as though they make the most of their hut by reading in an armchair and looking out at the wildlife in their garden, taking a break from office life inside their home

Richard Lee (pictured) started the firm in 2000 with partner Jane Dennison and the pair have enjoyed a 30 per cent rise in turnover as people look to create posh offices to work out of during lockdown life

The uses local suppliers within a 10-mile radius for timber and fixings while the chassis are supplied by Richard’s brother from his base across the border in Somerset.

Richard added: ‘Plankbridge has grown enormously from the early days of making huts outside the home workshop.

‘I remember rushing to get the walls up so I could tent it over with tarpaulins to create a makeshift workshop.

‘Later on, as we became more established, we needed funding for the next step and approached Funding Circle.

‘I didn’t analyse it too much at the time, it just felt like the right thing to do and was the quickest path to funding.

‘At each stage you don’t want to hang around as I think growth, in premises, staff and equipment, should be in response to demand. It is so important to keep the momentum going or there is the danger that you lose traction.’

Shed sellers have enjoyed a surge in demand over the last year as Britons with gardens look to retreat into nature to change their working landscape.

Among those to own a shepherd’s hut is former Prime Minister David Cameron who bought his in 2017.

The BBC reported him saying: ‘My children want to use it as a Wendy house.

‘I want to use it as a book-writing room and my son wants it as an alternative bedroom. So, quite a lot of competition.’

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