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British Cycling Partners with Thrifty Car and Van Rental

This week, popular car hire brand, Thrifty, have announced that they have expanded their sponsorship portfolio, having formed a new partnership with British Cycling.  

The deal will see Thrifty as the preferred transport supplier for the national governing body, helping them deliver various programmes and projects across the country. This will include HSBC UK Go-Ride; a programme that has seen over 350 cycling clubs launched to help teach children how to ride safely.  

Car rental discount for cyclists

Members of British Cycling will also benefit from this deal, with each and every one of the 146,000 members able to access a 10% discount on car and van rental. This will be applicable at over 116 locations, with British Cycling already promoting this discount to its staff and members.  

Chris Bagwell, FlexiFleet Manager at Thrifty, is thrilled to make this announcement. Talking today, he said: 

“With the countries’ amazing cycling achievements over the last few years we are thrilled to be working alongside British Cycling and the Great Britain Cycling Team. 

“It’s fantastic that they have recognised our brand as one of the leading suppliers of vehicle rental and are able to take advantage of our FlexiFleet product, with its unique qualities, to assist with their fleet requirements” 

British Cycling’s Commercial Director, Jonathan Rigby, is equally as happy to enter the partnership, believing it to add value to every part of the organisation.  

“Our partnership with Thrifty promises to be a positive one for our staff, members and British Cycling as a whole, thanks to their accessible and extensive fleet network across the UK. 

“We are proud to hold a shared passion for life in the saddle, and our new relationship gives us the exciting opportunity to play a part in facilitating that for diverse groups of people – for families in need of a large car to travel cross-country to explore new surroundings on their bikes, to those with disabilities making the most of Thrifty’s adapted cars programme. 

“And of course, our British Cycling and Great Britain Cycling Team staff in Manchester and regionally to deliver coaching sessions, manage events and support our elite riders. 

“A partnership like this is hugely important in helping us to extend the range of benefits available to our members.” 

Other sponsorships

But, British Cycling are not the only organisation to have landed a lucrative deal with Thrifty. In the last year, the car rental brand has signed sponsorship agreements with Professional Cricketers’ Association, Bolton Wanderers Football Club, Exeter Chiefs Rugby and many more.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shropshire Plant Hire Firm Goes into Administration

Here at Anything for Hire News, our aim is to keep our readers informed on what is going on in the hire and rental industry. But, unfortunately, it is not all rainbows and unicorns, with this week seeing the closure of a large, reputable plant hire firm in Shropshire.

Regrettably, Hawk Plant (UK) is now under the control of administrators, with Sam Woodward, Alex Williams and Hunter Kelly of EY’s restructuring team managing the process.

83 job losses

According to sources, the Prees-based company is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, with 83 out of the firm’s 420 employees having already been laid off this month.

While evidently in troubled waters, this news has come as a surprise to many. This is mainly due to the fact that the firm reported a healthy turnover of £93.5m in the financial year ending in December 2017. And with over 40 years of experience in the infrastructure, energy and homebuilding markets, many expected Hawk Plant (UK) to have stamped their name in the plant hire industry indefinitely.

Joint administrator, Sam Woodward, said the following:

“The group’s cashflow had been impacted by a number of historical problematic contracts and a delay in the commencement of anticipated projects.

Coupled with this, the group’s funding structure, with significant hire purchase and finance lease commitments put pressure on the cashflow at a time that asset utilisation was comparatively low.”

The business is now looking for a buyer to take over the company. This purchase will also include Hawk Plant (UK)’s five subsidiary businesses. However, who the buyer will be is anyone’s guess.

What does this mean for the UK plant hire industry?

Let us know what you think about this story by leaving your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

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Ofo Cycle Hire Rides Away from London

If you are a Londoner, you will be well aware of Ofo; a cycle hire firm that at one point had 6000 bikes dotted around the capital city. But today, the firm has announced that they will be pulling out of London, no longer offering their services to London’s commuters and tourists.

According to sources, the Chinese-owned brand is struggling to fight off bankruptcy, with exiting London being a strategic move to save the company. Backed by Alibaba, the brand introduced yellow bikes that users could leave in the streets of London, permitted to be hired through applications with complete ease.

Just a few months ago, the hire firm decided to ditch Norwich, Sheffield and Oxford, removing their bikes from the cities so that they could focus on London.

However, with a large proportion of their bikes either disappearing or vandalised, it appears their venture was short-lived. This, paired with a string of large competitors in the market, some would argue that this eventuality was inescapable.

Now, Ofo shows many signs of winding down, giving their last 50 employees the option to leave or take a 50% salary cut and move over to their Chinese division.

What does the future hold for London’s bike hire industry?

Last year, Ofo’s Chinese rival, Bluegogo, ceased trading, leaving Ofo to go head-to-head with Mobike’s in a race to become the ‘Uber of bikes’.

But, many criticised the quality of the bikes themselves. Emily Brooke, the owner of Beryl, which provides laserlights for Santander bikes, said the following of Ofo and Mobike:

“They haven’t got the ability to tailor their offering to different areas; they’ve got one model from China.”

Let us know what you think. What does the future hold for London’s bike hire industry? Is there now room for a new bike hire firm to come and clear up?

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HSS Hire to Sell Subsidiary for £60M

Popular tool and plant hire firm, HSS Hire, has this week been given the all-clear to sell one of their subsidiary businesses.

According to sources, Leicestershire-based Nationwide Platforms, a subsidiary of the Loxam Group, is set to acquire UK Platforms from HSS Hire. While little details have been revealed, sources say the firm is to be sold for a healthy £60.5 million.

Relieving itself of the responsibilities owning UK Platforms entails, the rental firm will now look to streamline its operations. Having found themselves in quite a substantial debt, the brand can now focus on tool hire and tool hire only.

HSS chief executive Steve Ashmore said the following:

“Today’s announcement is another step forward.

“It will accelerate progress against our strategic priorities, enabling further deleveraging through debt reduction and allow greater focus on our core tool hire business.

“The UK Platforms business has made an excellent contribution to the Group over recent years, but considering our priorities and focus on tool hire we feel it will reach its full potential under new ownership.

“We will continue to provide our customers with all of their powered access needs through our existing fleet and the new strategic partnership with Nationwide” he continued.

The sale is expected to be completed this year, with HSS being free of the brand by the end of 2019.

However, this is not a straight sale. As part of the deal, HSS has decided to enter into a long term, strategic commercial agreement with Nationwide Platforms. They have agreed to provide powered access equipment to add to HSS’s forever-growing fleet.

Let us know what you think. Is this a good move for HSS Hire? Or, should HSS Hire be further diversifying their investment portfolio? Leave your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments below.

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Audi on Demand: German Carmakers Roll out Rental Scheme

Audis are notoriously beautiful, being the epitome of fine German craftsmanship.

While be a stunning vehicle make, Audis are for many; unobtainable, usually sporting a high price tag. Until now that is. In addition to car rental firms, Audi will now offer Audi hire directly, this month rolling out the Audi on Demand service.

In essence, this is a product that permits renters to hire Audi cars directly from UK dealerships. As present, the Audi on Demand service will be promoted at eight different dealerships dotted across the country, with the brand evidently wanting to make Audi cars more accessible to the masses.

Bye bye to car ownership

This comes at a time where most of the UK’s drivers are moving away from vehicle ownership, with more and more motorists exploring leasing and rental options than ever before.

Positioning themselves as a modern brand that is moving with the times, many expect this venture to work well, with Audi doing all they can to offer a faultless, streamlined hire service. This includes arranging drivers’ insurance, valeting the vehicle before hiring it out and offering clear terms and conditions with regards to deposits and damages.

What’s more is that renters must be at least 21 years old to hire through the scheme, having the option to rent an Audi for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 28 days. All bookings will be conducted through their state-of-the-art application, meaning Audi rental is accessible on the move, 24 hours a day!

Targeting both young drivers as well as the corporate market, this is a great example of how vehicle brands are using modern technology to streamline and improve their products to make for leaner business models.

Let us know what you think.

Is this a tell-tale sign of struggling times or is Audi simply giving modern consumers what they want and need?

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Google Play Returns to Movie Rental

Over the years, so many big and small brands have ventured into the world of rental. Being such a profitable, lucrative model, it is understandable why tech giant, Google, is to latest to venture into this space.

According to a recent press release, Google Play store has brought back its $.99 movie rental deal, making new and older movies accessible on a budget. That includes 4K rentals!

However, this is just one change customers have experienced over Christmas. Google has also been promoting discounts on apps, games and IAPs throughout the festive period.

While seeing many movie buffs head to Twitter to share their excitement over the deals, this will however be a limited time offer.

DroidLife explains how you can make use of this rental deal:

“To redeem this offer, simply open up Google Play on your phone or desktop, find that red banner near the top (like in the image above), hit the Redeem button, then you’ll then see all rental prices, 4K included, drop to $0.99.”

But, this is not the only rental idea Google is focused on this year. According to the firm, Google Maps will now show users where they can rent scooters nearby. Encouraging their users to get from A to B in an environmentally-friendly fashion, Google Maps are actively promoting the services of Lime e-scooter.

‘If a Lime vehicle is available, you’ll see how long it’ll take to walk to the vehicle, an estimate of how much your ride could cost, and your total journey time and ETA.

‘Tapping on the Lime card will take you right to the Lime app, where you can see the exact location of the vehicle and easily unlock it,’ the firm continued.

Through the application, users can also retrieve an estimated price for hire. But, this is more than just a kind recommendation, with Google actually being part-owners in the Lime brand.

‘Simply navigate to your destination and tap on the transit icon to see your nearby options,’ Google explained.

According to sources, Google pledged $300M into the electric scooter startup. This investment was made through Google partners, Alphabet. Google Ventures and transport tycoons, Uber, were just a few other brands wanting to get a piece of this innovative startup.

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Sixt Invest in Berlin Startup; Chargery

One of the world’s largest car rental corporations, Sixt, has this week announced details of their latest investment, now owning shares in Berlin-based startup, Chargery.

As one of the most innovative startups in the electric car space, Chargery offers mobile electric car charging through machines attached to bicycles. Making for road-side charging, this business is actively making electric car charging more accessible, something many thought leaders have criticised the industry for.

With a strong and ever-growing electric fleet, Sixt has recently added the BMW i3, the BMW i8 and other hybrid cars to their collection, making this deal a well-timed one.

Catching the eye of many big firms, Sixt are not the only firm to have recently bought shares in this forward-thinking business. Daimler, DriveNow and VW Commercial Vehicles are just a few names hedging their bets on Chargery. This is arguably due to the modern nature of the firm, with their power bank only using energy from renewables. This permits brands such as Daimler to achieve their sustainability goals.

What’s more is that one full charge with 3.7 kW takes just 4.5 hours; a pretty commendable time when compared to other charging options.

While eager to get a return on the money they have invested in their share, Sixt will also be using the firm themselves, utlilsiing the on-trailer chargers for their own fleet of vehicles. It has also been suggested that Sixt will make use of Chargery’s car-cleaning and valet service; a strand to the firm’s bow that could be just as profitable as the charging itself.

At present, this only applies in Berlin. However, if the brand is gathering attention from such high-profile brands, expansion is arguably inevitable.

Let us know what you think, is this a wise move for Sixt? Leave your thoughts and opinions below.

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Uber to Revisit Autonomous Car Testing

Uber, one of the greatest technology firms of our time, has this week announced details of their latest project; one that will revisit the subject of self-driving vehicle testing. Approval has been given to the firm by Pennsylvania officials, putting Uber back in the race to defeat Google, Lexus and the likes to release a fully automated, driverless vehicle.

While given the green flag by PennDOT, the firm are yet to put cars on the roads devoid of drivers.

“We received our letter of authorization, yes but we haven’t put cars back on the road yet,” they confirmed in a statement.

The programme understandably grinded to a halt when a driverless Uber in test mode struck a pedestrian and killed them, in Tempe, Arizona. This took place back in March, with authorities then confirming that the technology was not advanced enough to test safely on the roads.

Being the first death caused by a driverless vehicle, the incident put a huge dent in both consumers and the authority’s confidence, pushing the launch of driverless cars for commercial use back years.

Understanding that they have to put a great deal of work to get everyone back on side, Uber last month released a voluntary safety report; one that outlines their plans and commitment to safe testing. This was sent to US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, claiming that when in test mode, Uber cars will have two employees present.

They have also rolled out a new training programme for said employees, doing all they can to see their next set of on-road tests be both safe and successful.

Let us know what you think. Should Uber be allowed free reign of US roads or is it too early to expect their driverless technology to be advanced enough? Be sure to leave your comments below.

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Hertz to Test Facial Recognition Technology

The admin involved in hiring a car is infamously tireless. From needing to remember to carry ID to providing proof of address, the whole process is just a tad archaic. Wanting to streamline the way in which we hire, Hertz has rolled out a new facial recognition tool.  This will see renters walk right past the rental desk and straight to the car, just needing their face to verify their booking and retrieve the keys.   

The initial focus will be at US airports, with the first facial recognition unit being erected at Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport in Atlanta this weekend. In 2019, Hertz will begin to roll these out further, seeing units placed at 40 airports. These will include New York, San Fransisco and Los Angeles, according to the firm. There are also plans to feature these units at large stadiums and porting venues.  

Hertz Fast Lane

Hertz has announced that the units will be called ‘Hertz Fast Lane’; something they expect to replace the traditional process of ‘signing in’.  

This is however not the work of just Hertz, with the car rental brand partnering with biometrics firm, Clear, to develop the equipment.  

“The new service…uses biometrics to drastically speed up the car rental process, so travellers can get through the exit gate and on the road in 30 seconds or less—a time saving of at least 75 percent,” said Hertz in a statement. 

Something for Hertz Gold Plus club members

But, this facial recognition tool will only be accessible to those who are members of the Hertz Gold Plus club. They will also need to enrol inClear to use the facial recognition equipment.  

The new tool will also give customers the option to check in via fingerpint if they did not want to use their face.  

Let us know what you think. Is this a good investment for Hertz? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Sixt Denies Hertz Takeover Rumours

2018 has been a noteworthy year for the car rental industry. From big scandals to new, innovative startups entering the forever-in-development space, it is safe to say that there is a lot to reflect on as the year draws to a close.  

During the course of the past few months, we have heard various rumours regarding the future of Sixt; a car rental firm that many say are in the process of purchasing one of its competitors; Hertz. While this would be one of the biggest car rental acquisitions of the last century, Sixt has now squashed these rumours, confirming that no money with be changing hands between the two brands.  

The rumour was intensified on Wednesday, when Seeking Alpha reported that there was a purchase in the pipeline. While giving little detail away, it claimed “European car rental player Sixt SE is interested in a takeover.” 

Seeing the rental industry enter a sort of frenzy, many firms and industry thought leaders shed their thoughts and opinions online, imagining the corporate power of such a meeting of minds.  

However, the idea of a takeover has been cleared up, with Sixt releasing a statement just today.  

“Current market speculations and media reports in the USA that Sixt SE is interested in acquiring Hertz are completely unfounded and false,” Sixt officials said. 

“Sixt rejects these rumours as inaccurate” the continued.  

While the brand was eager to dispel of such tales, both firms were rewarded when it came to their market worth. Following Sixt’s statement, shares in the firm rose by over 3%, giving investors a nice return on the money they had wagered. Hertz gained 7 percent on Wednesday, reaching a three-month high.  

Let us know what you think, was the rumour worth the free PR? Leave your comments with us.