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The impressive new Liverpool depot.

Orange pillars

Boels Rental announced its plans for the UK market with a flourish at the recent opening of its new flagship depot in Liverpool. Alan Guthrie attended the launch.

The imposing 10,500ft2 building that serves as the location for Boels

Rental’s new Liverpool depot, resplendent in the hirer’s bright orange livery, is tangible evidence of the changes that the Netherlands- based business is implementing following its acquisition of Supply UK Hire Shops in April 2017. That deal gave the company a firm foothold in this country with 19 tool and equipment hire depots, further bolstered almost exactly a year later with the purchase of Already Hire, which has four branches serving Greater London.

Chris Haycocks says Boels aims to have 50 UK depots by 2020.

The new Merseyside facility, situated on a trading estate to the north east of the city, replaces the former Supply UK depot which occupied three railway arches nearer the centre of Liverpool, and it has excellent links to the nearby motorway network. Since January, all the current locations have

been re-branded as bright orange Boels outlets, and Liverpool is the first of several large depot re-locations under way in strategic areas. The others are in Leeds, Stoke, Hereford and Shrewsbury.

Considerable investment has also been made in updating and expanding the hire fleet, reflecting the resources that the UK operation now has behind it. Boels Rental, which is headed by Pierre Boels Jr, the son of the founder of the business, operates in ten other countries throughout Europe, with more than 400 depots and 3,250 employees. In 2017, it generated annual turnover of €445m (£390m), an increase of 16% over the previous year. As well as tools and equipment, Boels operates special divisions for markets such as Site Accommodation, Power, Rail and Concrete Processing, amongst others, and also has an Event Hire operation plus, even, a Portable Kitchens division.

Ideal timing

Speaking at the Liverpool opening, Chris Haycocks, who is MD of Boels in the UK and held the same position with Supply UK, described Boels Rental as “the best custodian for our business.

11 Considerable investment has been made in new kit.

When Supply UK neared the 20-depot mark it became very capital intensive and a big mouth to feed. We were starting to add to the fleet in a reactionary way and it was difficult to plan on a five-year cycle basis to achieve our aspirations of becoming a truly national business.” He added that, from April 2016, the company had been actively looking for inward investment to enable the next phase of its growth, while protecting the interests of its employees. The interest from Boels, as a privately owned, European business based on tool and equipment hire, came at an ideal time.

“The significant long-term investment that Boels is making in the UK business does not mean a change in the way we operate,” continued Chris Haycocks. “We will remain a local and regional hirer principally serving tradesmen and professionals rather than large national accounts. The aim now is to become a genuine national company and to broaden the product range.”

He told EHN that there were no plans to introduce operations like portable kitchen equipment hire as it would not suit UK requirements. As in other countries in which Boels operates, the equipment offering will reflect the local market. “What is most important about Boels is the brand - not just the logo and livery, but what it represents. Behind it is the quality of the products, service, systems, delivery, logistics and marketing.”

Indeed, Boels Rental focuses on five ‘pillars’ or foundations of its business, comprising: Availability of products, Safety, Sustainability, Added Value (in terms of efficiencies) and Support. Boels’ UK National Operations Manager, Gary Darley, told EHN, “The five pillars mean

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