Ogilvie Fleet has continued its expansion drive with the acquisition for 'a six figure sum' of the corporate division of Northern Ireland-based Contraflex Contract Hire and Leasing.
The purchase adds approximately 350 company cars and vans to the Ogilvie Fleet portfolio and will see the business operate in the province as Ogilvie Fleet Northern Ireland.
Earlier this year, Stirling-headquartered Ogilvie Fleet, which also has offices in Birmingham and Sheffield, and operates a fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles, appointed Gary Kennedy as area sales manager for Northern Ireland based in Belfast.
Joining Gary in the Ogilvie Fleet Northern Ireland office will be three new members of staff who have been recruited from Contraflex: Mark McAllister, who is also employed as an area sales manager; Louise Henry, customer service executive who will handle day-to-day customer relationships; and Joanna Bruce, accounts and office administrator.
The acquisition means that together with business already won, Ogilvie Fleet Northern Ireland manages a portfolio of some 400 company cars and vans in the province and continues to be the only UK-mainland headquartered contract hire and fleet management organisation with a business base in the country.
Industry data suggests that there are some 15,000 vehicles on contract hire in Northern Ireland, of which approximately 9,000 are managed by three indigenous companies.
Gordon Stephen, Managing Director of Ogilvie Fleet, said: "Over the next three years we hope to grow the business to some 2,000 vehicles in Northern Ireland."
One of the fall-outs from the 2008 banking crisis was the decision of a number of the major contract hire and leasing funders to the vehicle leasing market in Northern Ireland to pull out of the market. Those decisions by Bank of Scotland, Lombard and First Trust (a division of the Allied Irish Bank), were the catalyst for Ogilvie Fleet to break into the Northern Ireland market.
Mr Stephen explained: "We started to provide a funding stream to enable existing contract hire providers in the province to secure business after the large funders started to withdraw. One of the leasing companies that we worked with was Contraflex.
"Over the last 18 months the relationship has developed to the extent that we have acquired the corporate side of the business."
Contraflex Contract Hire and Leasing, which was launched by John Henry in 2000, will continue to write personal leasing business from its existing office on the Carrowreagh Business Park in Dundonald, Belfast.
Ogilvie Fleet Northern Ireland will operate from the same building with Mr Henry, who has 32 years experience of the leasing sector in the province, working as a consultant for at least the next two years.
Nick Hardy, Sales and Marketing Director of Ogilvie Fleet, said: "Businesses are expanding in Northern Ireland and we believe we have a track record in serving the small to medium fleet sector that will help to win new contracts."
"Customers moving to Ogilvie Fleet from Contraflex will benefit from the significant investment that we have made in online fleet management software in recent months. They will see online services and facilities that we don't believe are currently on offer in the province yet at the same time will have all of the traditional levels of personal and flexible service that have made Ogilvie the respected company it is today".
Mr Stephen added: "Customers in Northern Ireland made it very clear that they want to benefit from account management at a local level and we will comply with that wish. Overall we believe that service levels and the quality of account management will improve because of the investment we have made in our vehicle management systems."
Mr Henry said: "The fit with Ogilvie Fleet is first class and the acquisition safeguards the jobs of employees. Meanwhile, Contraflex will continue as a specialist company seeking to win personal vehicle leasing business in Northern Ireland.
"Ogilvie Fleet's ethos from a customer service viewpoint is very similar to ours. I know customers will not be let down and that is very important to me. In business customer service is paramount."
Contraflex has focused on serving small and medium-sized fleets, a market sector that Ogilvie Fleet is attuned to as well as serving larger fleets. Earlier this year Ogilvie Fleet was voted the UK's top vehicle leasing and fleet management company for service to customers running 25 to 250 vehicles in the annual Fleeteye CSI survey of fleet operators.
Additionally, Ogilvie Fleet will continue to provide funding streams to two or three other contract hire and leasing companies in Northern Ireland.
The Contraflex purchase follows Ogilvie Fleet's cross-seas tie-up with Germany-based Sixt Leasing and further supports the company's desire to offer a true pan-European service.