Argos signs up with VP plc for ‘virtual hire’
By Murray Pollok03 August 2011
Argos is the latest big name UK retailer to sign up with VP's tool hire business, Hire Station, to provide ‘virtual hire' services to its customers.
A page on tool hire has been included in Argos' latest Autumn-Winter catalogue, which is one of the most popular ‘consumer' good catalogues in the UK. The retailer now offers its customers a website dedicated to rental - www.argostoolhire.co.uk - and will also offer the service from its 750 stores in the UK.
The Argos agreement means that Hire Station is providing tool hire services to 20 UK retailers at more than 1000 stores throughout the country. Hire Station does not provide equipment or staff at these locations, but offers a dedicated telephone sales line or bespoke web page for the retailers' customers to use.
Other clients include Homebase and the Garden Centre Group (formerly Wyevale Garden Centres).
The Argos partnership, like the others, is a rental share agreement, with VP taking a share of hire revenues. The service was first started four years ago with Wyevale Garden Centres, but the initiative moves to another level with the Argos link.
Neil Stothard, group managing director of VP plc, owner of Hire Station, plays down the significance of the agreement; "You have to be realistic about it. The Argos catalogue is very thick - what are the chances of a massive footfall? But it will be incremental. It will be interesting to see the results. It's more of an example of us doing something innovative."
The contribution to revenues from this white label strategy is still small, and Mr Stothard is not setting overly-ambitious targets; "We would be happy if it was 5% [of Hire Station revenues] - £2.5 million a year. That would be a nice target to have."