Europe’s leading powered access rental company Lavendon, has announced that it is consolidating all of its UK operations under the Nationwide Platforms brand.
The ‘go-live’ date for the changeover is February 1st, however the transition has already started. The company currently operates under three brands, with Panther and EPL Skylift in addition to Nationwide Platforms and all are part of Lavendon Access Services.
So in May and June of this year the company retained a market research company to conduct a major blind survey of powered access users throughout the UK.
Over 500 users – including Lavendon customers and non-customers were polled via telephone. The survey asked respondents to list all of the powered access brand names they knew, they were then asked to rate the quality of service of those that they could name. Nationwide topped the poll with a 43 percent recognition while the Panther brand scored 16 percent, EPL Skylift eight percent and Lavendon four percent.
Quality perception was similar for both Nationwide and Panther with the former just one percent ahead at 61 percent. With this information to hand the company decided that Nationwide Platforms would become the single brand for the UK business. The fact that 78 percent of EPL customers already use Nationwide along with 48 percent of Panthers also helped in the decision making process. This decision will also require less rebranding of equipment and vehicles than the others – an added bonus.
The changes will have little external effect on operations, given that depot mergers and consolidation has been underway for some time under the Lavendon Access Services banner. However the delivery fleet, sales and information systems will be merged and the company expects this to make the business more efficient and provide a better level of service. Customers will have both a single national telephone number and the direct numbers of their nearest branch.
The truck mounted lift business, currently operated under the EPL Skylift banner, will continue to be run separately in recognition of the differences between operated and non-operator rental. It will be known as the ‘Specialist Vehicle Division’ of Nationwide Platforms. The EPL network has already been merged with the self- propelled business, with the exception of two dedicated locations in Leeds and St Albans- so no further changes are required.
Potts said: Our customers will continue to do business with the same powered access specialists they have always dealt with. Now we’ll be able to offer them access to our entire fleet, allowing us to make sure that they have access to the right product, at the right place, every time.”
“As a business we are always striving to take new steps in delivering the service our customers should find in a market leader. I am confident that the new single UK brand will help us move forward and be of great benefit to those we serve. In addition we are investing up to £25 million in new equipment for 2012, supplementing our already extensive range of powered access equipment.”
A merger of the brands has been on the agenda for some time, when Lavendon launched its UK acquisition spree in 2006, the Nationwide business was losing ground to an increasingly strong group of regional competitors such as Panther, AFI, The Platform Company and others. The company had lost its way as it attempted to centralise sales operations away from the depots and ‘de-skill’ the hire desk/dispatcher role.
Recognising that it needed a rapid solution in what was a booming market it acquired a number of well-run companies such as Panther, Kestrel, A.M.P. and Higher Platforms. Initially these businesses continued to be managed by their previous owners. Then in 2008 Lavendon announced the merger of the regionals companies under the Panther brand – effectively giving itself two national brands, both of which came under the new Lavendon Access Services organisation. This started a gradual merging of all UK functions with a great deal of ‘cross pollination’ in terms of service standards and systems, all of which has triggered today’s announcement.
The Nationwide business had in the same time acquired and absorbed The Platform Company and Wizard Workspace and improved its customer service and quality standards to new levels.
With the merging of operations under a single name looking increasingly likely, many thought that the Lavendon name was the most likely to be adopted. However the market survey clearly indicated that this would have been the least advantageous of four options.
While some may mourn the passing of the EPL and Panther names, most will acknowledge that this is the right decision and a necessary change if the business is to efficiently build brand awareness.
Nationwide Platforms/Lavendon UK may, like most companies, still have plenty of room for improvement, but today the combined business is once again setting standards and leading the market in a positive way. The new branding is almost the last part of the jigsaw.