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Bob The Billionaire Builder

By Laurie Stone

by Keerat

Laurie Stone


Meet the bungalow king and his entrepreneur partner as they talk exclusively to the Influencer

HE is one of Britain’s richest individuals, presiding over a business empire worth £2billion and some 50 companies.

But you won’t hear Robert Bull, who likes to be known as Bob, shouting from the rooftops about his wealth and achievements. In fact, he could lay claim to being the UK’s answer to the hit US TV show ‘Undercover Billionaire’.

While others are famous for splashing out millions on cars, boats and planes, Bull, 45, prefers to live a quiet life with his family in rural Hampshire.

“Yes, we go away to exotic locations when I can escape work but, honestly, I like nothing better than to walk into the local village and sit and watch the world go by,” said Bull.



But he’s certainly not been following that approach with his business. Since founding RoyaleLife – styled as the ‘UK’s largest bungalow provider’ – in 2017, it has become the main plank in a multi-billion-pound business empire that simply shouldered the pandemic and downturn out of the way.

Headquartered in Fareham, Hants, RoyaleLife now has 108 gated communities across England and Wales and Bull is a man on a mission to change the way people think about their retirement.

“I want us to be the biggest provider of high-end bungalow estates. More importantly though, I aim to provide affordable, luxurious, and secure living options for retirees who want to enjoy their golden years in comfort and style, by combining community, privacy, and independence.

“That means access to fitness centres, swimming pools, social events as well as onsite restaurants and bars.”

The format clearly works. The company has attracted billions in investment and is one of the fastest-growing retirement home companies in the country, earning Bull accolades such as ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the 2020 Great British Entrepreneur Awards.


He attributes much of this to shrewd acquisition of existing sites and land for future expansion. “My grandfather was fond of that old Mark Twain quote ‘Buy land – they’re not making it anymore’ and he wasn’t wrong.”

Bull shrewdly spotted reviving interest in Canvey Island in Essex and is currently investing £200 million revamping a former caravan site there and a further £100 million at Henfold Lakes near Gatwick. He also plans to upgrade a caravan site he bought for £100 million, next to historic Reculver on the north Kent coast.

“Reculver highlights what we are doing at RoyaleLife,” said Bull. “The static and touring caravan market was once big business but has been dying slowly in recent years. Restrictions have crept in and it’s not attracting a new and younger clientele.

“But the demand from over-45s to downsize, release capital and enjoy a high-quality retirement has created a ready market for re-purposing caravan parks and creating new bungalow communities.


“Planning authorities are broadly supportive too. Changing a caravan site is seen as a planning gain, and most of the construction takes place offsite, causing minimal local disruption when they are installed.”

This last point also highlights another secret of Bull’s success – owning the entire process from supplying the land, constructing the bungalows, freighting the modules to site, and erecting them.

“At one point, we found that our expansion was being held up by supplies from the manufacturers – so we bought them,” said Bull rather matter-of-factly. “The only part of the process that we don’t own now is handling the part- exchange properties people move out of when coming to a RoyaleLife community – but we’re working on it!



“I say ‘we’ because this business is not just about me, but the 2,000-strong army of people I have been privileged to recruit. We aim to make everyone autonomous, to know exactly what they must target to meet key performance indicators.”

Bull started in business by trading caravans but realised in 2007 there were bigger and better opportunities operating locations and selling new manufactured bungalows.

“This was a vision I shared with my father (also Robert Bull), who sadly passed away in July this year. I am pleased to say that we have achieved what we set out to do.”

But he does not see himself as a ‘holiday parks developer’, more a builder of homes like Persimmon and Bovis.

“With more support and recognition from the Government, my sector could solve the current housing shortage, particularly in the southeast,” he said.

But in the meantime, he relishes downtime at home with his girlfriend, Norwegian model and entrepreneur Sara Nilsen, and his sons Robert Jnr, who is 19, and seven-year-old Jack, plus a menagerie of horses, dogs, goats, chickens and ferrets – testament to the couple’s shared love of animals.


Sara is a keen horsewoman, so their home includes stables and paddocks as well as a five-a-side soccer pitch, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a gym.

The last feature was added because Robert has become more and more health-conscious in recent years. “I let my weight get too high but I now eat sensibly and get a buzz from the gym. It clears my mind for business.”

Football is a big part of the household with Robert and his eldest son both keen Manchester United fans as the family spent some years in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

“We got together to as many games as we can, but I have to say we do get a lot of teasing from Sara as her fellow Norwegian, Erling Haaland, keeps on scoring goals for United’s arch-rivals Manchester City.

“But there are more important goals, and one of mine is to give more to charity. I favour Help for Heroes, the British Heart Foundation, the cancer charities and one that deserves to be better known, the Aldridge Fund, which helps disadvantaged young people develop better skills to get jobs.

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