Latest additions to the Selwood plant hire fleet include Takeuchi mini excavators, with colour coded buckets, and JCB dumpers with cabs.

Plant hire focus

Nick Johnson visits the plant division of Selwood, which decided to stop plant distribution last year and has subsequently been adding some different makes of machine into its hire fleet.

With roots going back to 1946, Selwood is now one of the longest- established names to be still very active in the UK plant hire market. However, hire was not the first activity as founder, Bill Selwood, started his business in Southampton by selling Government surplus equipment at the end of World War II. He moved on to selling new plant in 1952 and plant hire was added shortly afterwards. Pump manufacture commenced in 1953 when the innovative Simplite was introduced and now, whilst the pump division both sells and hires pumps, the separate plant division is solely focused on hire.

The decision to stop being a regional dealer for construction equipment ended a long tradition of selling plant. Early dealerships were for Benford mixers and dumpers, the pioneering Whitlock backhoe loaders and the interesting Schmeidag compact tracked loaders from Germany - machines that were ahead of their time.

Other marques that have come and gone from the Selwood sales portfolio over the years have included Atlas Copco, Ford, Hyundai, Komatsu, Kubota, Merlo, Stothert & Pitt, Thwaites and Yanmar. Many of these brands also entered the Selwood hire fleet during the time that the company was busy promoting and selling them.

However, both hiring and selling construction equipment can have its pitfalls. Other hirers in the area often do not want to buy from a competitor, and being associated with particular brands on the sales side can stifle purchases of rival equipment, even if there are hire customers asking for it.

Tighter margins

Selwood has been busy buying new Hamm lightweight tandem vibrating rollers.

Now these issues no longer affect Selwood as its plant division last year terminated all its remaining distribution agreements. Simon Rose, Selwood’s Plant Hire Director of Sales and Operations, says that plant sales became less attractive because margins were getting tighter. Another negative was that other dealers for some of the products were selling against Selwood in its territory.


Being able to concentrate fully on plant hire has enabled Selwood to take a fresh look at which machines to purchase for its sizeable hire fleet. The company runs popular machine types such as hydraulic excavators (sized up to 15 tonnes), site dumpers, telescopic handlers, lightweight tandem vibrating rollers and portable air compressors from seven dedicated plant hire depots, complete with their own hire desks and sales representatives. These are situated in Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Exeter, Sittingbourne and Southampton, operating separately from Selwood’s 22 pump hire depots.

Consultation with customers

Simon Rose says that the opportunity was taken to evaluate the latest machines on the market and consult with customers before deciding which models would be purchased to update and expand the plant hire fleet. The intention is to have two brands in each principal product category; when it comes to excavators, the new suppliers are Cat (through UK dealer, Finning) and Takeuchi.

Selwood is now on its third tranche of Takeuchis as part of a four-year programme to replace its 400-strong fleet of compact excavators. Models being purchased include the 1.6-tonne TB216, the new 2.5-tonne TB225, the 3.0-tonne TB230 and the 6.0-tonne TB260. Training for Selwood personnel on these machines has been undertaken at Takeuchi’s UK headquarters in the Rochdale. So far, Selwood has not selected any hybrid machines but it is ready to react to any noticeable increase in customer demand for this new era diesel/electric technology.

The new Takeuchi compact excavators are being bought with Hills quick- couplers, and Selwood is adding two sizes of Epiroc hydraulic breakers - the EC40 (for 1 to 3-tonne minis) and EC70 (for 4 to 9-tonne machines). The buckets sourced for the new compact excavators come from Rhinox and are now being colour coded to enable quick indication of size and

One of the latest JCB telescopic handlers outside the purpose-built Bournemouth plant hire depot.

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