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Supply UK currently has 18 tool and equipment depots.

Set for growth

Supply UK is set for expansion - and a change of name - following its acquisition by Netherlands-based Boels Rental. Alan Guthrie reports.

Now that it has the resources of Boels Rental behind it, Supply UK will be able to significantly develop its operation. The company, which was established in 1998 and employs 165 people - all of whom have been retained - currently has 18 tool and equipment depots throughout the country, as well as six dedicated locations for its Survey & Laser and Force 3 emergency equipment operations, and this number will grow in the future.

“Supply UK has always been an ambitious, growth-minded business, feeding an expanding depot network, a growing customer base and a widening product range through working capital and conventional funding, which often frustrated the pace at which we could grow,” MD Chris Haycocks told EHN. “It won’t surprise anyone to learn that we have looked at inward investment at various times in the past. However, the key was finding the right partner or custodian who would not just take it over, de-skill it, re-badge it and lose its core values, but would take a long-term view.”

Supply UK had sold its specialist Water Services business (which was re-named Aquam Water Services) and was evaluating its overall hire operation and future development. It was, therefore, perfect timing when the company was first approached in the summer of 2016 by Boels, which has more than 350 depots in ten countries, excluding the UK.

MD Chris Haycocks says that personnel are “buzzing” about being part of the Boels group.

acquisition had anything to do with Brexit, nor was it a snap decision. Supply UK is the right size and provides a platform for Boels’ expansion in this country, and Pierre Boels is eager to preserve everything that Supply UK cherishes in terms of our operations, values and commitment to service.”

Chris Haycocks says that the depot network will be expanded to address gaps in its coverage, and to develop specific areas, such as London, where the business currently has only one location. “We shall continue to pursue our business model of building depots and regions around local and regional customers, underpinned by local sales people and managers who take real ownership of their businesses. Allied to this programme of organic and geographical expansion will be the opportunity to develop an even more comprehensive product range, and we shall look to accelerate the growth of our specialist activities. And we shall preserve a flat management structure that enables us to respond quickly to staff and customers alike.”

The business plans to accelerate expansion of its specialist activities such as the Survey & Laser operation.

“MD Pierre Boels understands the hire industry inside out and knows many industry professionals in the UK, I don’t think the


The initial focus is obviously on integrating the Supply UK operation into that of its new owner, in terms of IT, systems and procedures, and eventually the Boels brand will also be adopted. “So long as we are sensitive to our customers and our own team, I have no doubt that the Boels name would be embraced,” said Chris Haycocks. “It will sit very well with our existing operation. It is a business and band that oozes quality, its systems are second to none, it loves to explore new products and its sets the highest standards in stock availability.

“The Boels operation is extremely impressive indeed and when I visited its headquarters in Sittard, I had not seen anything like it in 27 years of working in the hire industry, with regard to efficiency and quality. I wanted to get our own people over there, too, rather than prepare some grand speech or words of reassurance, so that is exactly what we have done. We have already organised several trips for managers and other personnel to see the Boels business, and they were all blown away and buzzing. People are enjoying working with their counterparts, sharing ideas and experiences.”

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