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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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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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Speedy Hire Acquire Scottish Training Provider

Speedy Hire, one of the biggest tool and equipment hire brands in the UK, has this week announced details of their newest venture, deciding to make another addition to their investment portfolio. According to the firm, they have acquired a respectable Scottish training firm; Geason.  

Aiding the growth period that they find themselves in, Speedy Hire sees purchasing the Glasgow-based construction and professional services training firm as a strategic move.  

Who are Geason?  

With strong connections and affiliates in the construction, infrastructure and industrial markets, investing in Geason is a wise move.  But, what can they offer Speedy in the shape of a RIO (Return on Investment)?.  

Well, in essence, Geason offers flexible, progressive learning for the construction industry. And, while they are headquartered in Glasgow, they deliver training services successfully across the UK. Currently, 1,100 apprentices and 500 NVQ are utilising Geason’s services, with their programmes heavily in demand across the country. 

Plus, when it comes to revenue, the firm seem to be doing pretty well. In the 12 months leading up to October 2018, Geason reported revenue of £8.3m. Earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation stood at £1.7m and gross assets were reported to be worth £2.6m. 

Having the training business within their group will allow Speedy Hire to better train and develop their workforce internally, further supporting the growth of Speedy’s services businesses.  

Russell Down, CEO of Speedy, says the following the news of the acquisition: 

“This acquisition expands our training services offering and allows us to deliver flexible, progressive training programmes to support customers across the UK. 

“I warmly welcome Ian, Robert and Geason employees to Speedy.” 

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

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New Car Rental Scheme Could Combat Terrorism

Over the past five years, the vehicle rental industry has come under fire for their vetting processes, with a number of rented cars and vans being used in terrorist attacks. Seeing both the public and governing bodies call for changes to be made, it appears the UK is finally making progress in this troublesome area.

Launched by Department for Transport (DfT), the security scheme strives to increase counter-terrorism awareness, limiting the risk of rented and leased motors being used as weapons. This will be achieved by a new Code of Practice; developed by DfT in partnership with BVRLA.

Rental firms can voluntarily join in on the scheme, seeing them share their data with relevant law enforcement organisations, train their staff in a certain way and generally work in a more preventative manner. It will now be rental business’ responsibility to report suspicious behaviour and very much work in coalition with the law.

Under the scheme, companies will also be encouraged to only take payments for vehicles by card only, ensuring all customers are trackable.

Thrilled to launch the scheme, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney, said:

“The BVRLA has been instrumental in leading the sector’s response to the emerging and increasingly present threat of vehicles being used in acts of terror.

“During the past two years we have worked closely with government and law enforcement organisations and although there is no single panacea for combatting terrorism, the vehicle rental sector is committed to doing all it can to deter those seeking to inflict harm on our communities.

“Long before the publication of government’s Contest counter-terrorism strategy, which outlined a commitment to working with our sector on measures to improve counter-terrorism awareness, we had already been leading the way in developing and delivering free sector-specific CT-awareness training to members, and non-members.

“Although those working in daily rental cannot, and should not, be expected to carry out the role of law enforcement, all UK citizens, including those working in our sector have an important role to play in the fight against terrorism by being vigilant and reporting anything suspicious.

“We would encourage all those operating in short-term vehicle rental to register for the scheme.”

Let us know what you think. Is this scheme the best way to tackle rental vehicles being used unlawfully? Leave your thoughts and comments with us.

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Uber Put Brakes on Rental Program for Riders

Uber, one of the greatest transport brands of our time, has this week put the brakes on their Uber Rent project; a rental car program for riders.

Partnering with Getaround for this venture, Uber permitted users to book and hire privately-owned cars as and when they needed them. Available in San Francisco through the app, the aim of the product was to reduce car ownership whilst expanding their portfolio of transport projects.

“We know you’ve relied on Uber Rent powered by Getaround, and apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you,” Uber wrote in a statement.

Though a slightly negative story surrounding the rental firm, all in all, it has been a great week for the brand.

The valuation

Earlier this week, Uber justified its $170 Billion valuation. Expected to file for IBO in 2019, the company has worked hard to arrive at such a price tag, having made many tweaks to the way they do business in the run-up to the floatation. From limiting driver incentives to cutting customer promotions, the brand has successfully made the Uber group more profitable.

Nelson Chai, Uber’s chief financial officer, said:

“We had another strong quarter for a business of our size and global scope.

“As we look ahead to an IPO and beyond, we are investing in future growth across our platform, including in food, freight, electric bikes and scooters, and high-potential markets in India and the Middle East where we continue to solidify our leadership position.”

Is the valuation of £90M too ambitious?

While $120M (£90M) is easy to say, this valuation would make Uber more than three times more valuable than Ford. When considering that the firm is yet to make a profit, could this valuation still be pretty ambitious? Let us know your thoughts by leaving your comments with us.

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Enterprise Drives Plans for Vietnam Expansion

This week, the world’s largest car rental firm, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, has announced further details of their expansion.

Venturing into the Vietnam market, Enterprise Holdings makes its first move into Asia. The brand already boasts 85 locations in Europe and America.

Wanting to dominate the Asian car rental market, Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be working through their Vietnamese franchise partner, MP Logistics, offering a catalogue of cars and vans across the whole of the Asia Pacific region.

At present, there are just 300 Enterprise rental cars in operation in Asia, ranging from small, 5-seater vehicles to larger motors with a capacity of 47. While only available in Ho Chi Minh City, the plan is to open bases across the region, with Hanoi and central Da Nang City being areas of focus for the beginning of 2019.

The brand will initially be working on building a corporate customer base of employers with operations in Vietnam. This will allow Enterprise to create long-term leasing partnerships. Once succeeded in that area, Enterprise will move towards short-term rental with chauffeurs as well as self-drive options.

Turning a profit

But, when it comes to turning a profit, Enterprise Rent-A-Car know that they have a great deal of work on their hands.

“The price of buying a car in Vietnam is twice that in the U.S., but the rental price is the same in both markets, so the business risk will be higher” they said.

Todd Prister, regional director for the Enterprise Franchise Asia-Pacific, is excited to see what the future holds for this venture.

“Vietnam not only has one of the highest growth rates in the world as well as attractive business markets, but also is a prominent destination in Southeast Asia. Combining these factors, Vietnam will be a brilliant opportunity for us” he said.

What are your thoughts?

Let us know what you think about Enterprise’ latest venture by leaving your comments below.