"OK start to 2008"

By Maria Hadlow07 May 2008

Andy Wright, chief executive of Lavendon Access Services - the new division that will operate the Nationwide and Panther businesses in the UK - says the UK businesses have made an "OK start to the year. I wouldn't say fantastic. 2007 was a very strong year in terms of demand. This year there will be plenty of work, we might just have to work harder to get it."

The strategy is for Nationwide to offer national coverage with Panther operating a series of ‘local' rental businesses, although all now under the same brand. Mr Wright says the two organisations will retain their distinct operating models, and says there is room for further expansion of the Panther operation; "We have a gap in Scotland", he says.

Mr Wright has some other plans for the business. With 11000 units in the UK alone, he says there is the possibility of establishing an in-house refurbishment facility. This would be for preventative maintenance and not the kind of total refurbishment that Genie Europe has carried out for the company in the recent past.

The business has been investing in low height equipment - including CTE's Power Tower - but Mr Wright is cautious about over-investing; "It's a real opportunity, but it needs to be proven that it makes more profit."

Meanwhile, he says the van mounted business Rise Hire has been performing "way ahead of plan". He says the fleet will be expanded with another 65 units or so this year, and the machines will be offered from more of Nationwide's truck mounted depots in the UK.

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