Easy Jet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has decided to extend the Easy brand to the powered access industry.
We understand that the Easy Group has reached an agreement to acquire Hickstead based access rental company Facelift for an undisclosed sum.
Since he stepped away from the day to day management of Easy Jet some years ago Haji-Ioannou has been looking to extend the Easy brand into new market sectors, so far these have included cinemas, bus services, car rental, hotels and even cruises. The group expects to bring skills from its car rental and the airline businesses to the powered access industry.
A reliable source told Vertikal.net that Easy Jets founder Haji-Ioannou and Facelift owner Gordon Leicester, first met on an Easy jet flight from Greece around 18 months ago where the idea was first mooted and that the two have been holding high level talks for more than 12 months now. The talks have stepped up since January as the UK access market began to recover and while the deal was ‘shaken-on’ in March the official announcement has been held off until today.
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Stelios Haji-Ioannou (L) with Gordon Leicester of Facelift
Having had his interest peaked by the talks with Haji-Ioannou we also understand that Leicester made an approach to Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson to see if he might be interested in creating Virgin Access, but we hear that he found the Virgin entrepreneur was only interested in the bigger machines so interest waned. Michael O’Leary of Ryan Air apparently heard of the negotiations and made a counter offer, however the potential partners could not see eye to eye as O’Leary wanted to charge for things like taking your tools up in the cage, while adding an electricity meter on battery powered machines to charge for amps used, so things fell apart.
The new venture will follow the typical Easy branding, with all new machines being painted in Easy orange with the famous white lettering. Older machines will be repainted as quickly as utilisation allows and the Facelift fleet will be simplified with the company selling off its specialist and niche machines to focus on the most popular sizes of booms, scissors and truck mounts.
Following the Easy Jet philosophy there will be no hire desk staff required, as all bookings will be processed on the Easy website. Facelift’s hire controllers and sales staff will have the option to re-train as cabin crew rather than take redundancy. We understand that this offer went down extremely well with most Facelift staff, as many of them have not been on holiday for years. To quote Brenda from Facelift’s West London depot “it’s like a dream come true, all I’ve seen for years is the inside of a Portakabin and now I get to see the world”
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The Facelift fleet will be rebranded
Intercompany co-operation and integration is seen as key to the deal, Easy jet will be taking on Facelift's eight IPAF instructors and re-training them to assist with pilot training for sickness and holiday cover at Luton Airport. Eddie Reast senior instructor for Facelift said: "It’s a natural progression from training on
Bronto's for years to now training Airbus pilots"
The new business will also be adopting some of the sales policies of the budget airline industry, including large discounts for advanced orders (with a zero refund policy for cancellation). They will also be charging different rates according to what day of the week and time of the day that a customer requires a machine. With special discounts for anyone who hires a machine on a Sunday or bank holiday (subject to delivery charges, fuel surcharge, taxes etc…)
If the venture works out as well as the two expect, the plans are to roll the service out in the general rental market including telehandlers and mobile Cranes so watch this space.
Leicester is also said to be keen to become involved in other Easy ventures and as a final sweetener to close the deal has been promised a trial as an Easy Jet pilot, something he has wanted to do since he was a little boy- not so long ago. In fact he has already been seen by Facelift staff strutting up and down in his Easy Jet pilot’s uniform making announcements over the intercom.
To see the internal Facelift announcement on the new Easy Access web site click here -
The deal is expected to close before midday today.