10.07.2020

Major UK access companies restructure

Over the past two days we have received numerous calls and messages regarding rumours and claims about redundancies at the two largest UK powered access rental companies, Nationwide Platforms – part of Loxam – and AFI.

The input received has been fairly consistent claiming that both companies have made 60 percent of their regular employees redundant, adding that the layoffs have not included any senior managers or directors.

We contacted both companies to discuss the verity of these claims and rumours, given the high levels of layoffs claimed, in order to try and ascertain the facts. AFI was open and frank about the situation, stating that it had launched a restructuring exercise as part of its plans to adapt to the changing situation and remain viable in light of the current reduced demand and ongoing state of the UK economy. It was categoric in its statement to us however that it had not made any layoffs as part of this potential restructuring. But that it had informed staff that it would mostly likely be forced to reduce headcount by as much as 20 percent, and had given notice of the likelihood of this happening as the company looks to merge some depots and close one or two others. The warning notices of possible redundancies includes staff at all levels, including managers and directors.

We know that Nationwide Platforms has also launched a restructuring process in order to adapt to the changing market and made a number of long serving staff redundant. We have seen letters giving a month’s notice to the end of July. As regards to the level of redundancies, they are likely to be at similar levels to that mentioned by AFI, possibly a little higher, but it is hard to see how they will be anywhere close to the 60 percent claimed by our callers or the social media rumours?

AFI and Nationwide Platforms are not alone in the UK, other major rental companies such as Charles Wilson, and almost certainly Sunbelt, Speedy and others will all be looking to adapt to the current business situation as the UK's furlough programme winds down.

At the other end of the market we do know that several small to medium size rental companies are doing relatively well and may even gain from some of the downsizing going on among the major rental companies.

We have now received a communication from Nationwide which stated that Loxam's policy is not to comment on speculation. It has said however: “We are always monitoring our customer requirements and our service levels and take appropriate action whenever and wherever it is warranted. The Covid crisis has, like just about every other entity in the country, caused headwinds for our business but we have weathered them well and our business is in good shape.”

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