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The new depot has an imposing main road presence.

Busy Beavers

Alan Guthrie visits Beaver Tool Hire’s newly re-located Portsmouth depot, which is bringing significant benefits to the business.

It is often said that a building’s location is the most important consideration when buying property, and that certainly holds true for Beaver Tool Hire’s depot in Portsmouth. The company, which has four other branches in the south of England, re-located its operation in the city last September, to a new high-profile site on a busy arterial road.

the flooring and placing cladding on part of the exterior to reflect the styling inside, were carried out by contractors that are also existing Beaver customers.

“It involved a lot of hard work. We obviously used some equipment from our own fleet for certain jobs. The project was a great way of getting to know some new tools inside out. For example, we needed to remove a build-up of residue that was inches thick from the floor in one area previously used for manufacturing. We contacted Husqvarna and they were really helpful, advising us to use a PG 280 floor grinder. It is a specialist machine that we had not offered previously, but it gives a heavy-duty performance and very high work-rate. Their staff came to train us in its operation and it did the job perfectly. We now have the machine in our fleet.

“We also installed the CCTV system. The quote we had from an outside contractor was steep, so we decided to see what we could do ourselves. We sourced what we needed and we now have a very versatile system that gives us exactly what we wanted, including the ability to see images from the depot in real time on our smartphones. We plan to install similar equipment at our other depots.”

Tony Criddle, right, with Beaver’s Portsmouth team.

Operations Director Tony Criddle says the move represents a significant improvement over the previous facility. “Five years ago, we moved our previous Portsmouth site to a trading estate owing to expansion. It served us well, but we missed much of the previous passing trade that our former high street shop had enjoyed. The new building came up for sale in 2014, and we had known of it for years because it was such a great location. It is on the A3, the major route into Portsmouth, and an estimated 20,000 cars drive by every day. It also offers good off-road parking, more storage and yard space, and ticks all the boxes.”

The site was bought in October 2014 and needed substantial renovation, having previously been used by an engineering firm. The renovation project had particular significance for Tony, who joined Beaver in 1989 and was Depot Manager at Portsmouth for ten years from 1998. The work included removing a large staircase, installing larger windows to enhance the shop’s appeal to onlookers, and knocking through five existing offices to create the showroom and hire desk area. Tony, who once worked as a joiner and cabinet maker, designed and built the counter and computer work stations himself, and fitted the slat walling which gives a clean interior finish. Many other tasks, such as installing the suspended ceiling,


The Portsmouth project has proved to be a template for several other ideas that might be rolled out across the Beaver network. These include the design and layout of the hire counter, and illuminated signs with LED lights to make the depot stand out.

The building also accommodates a new service and repair facility to undertake work on customers’ own equipment. Demand for this has

A new service operation for customers’ equipment has been built.

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