Lavendon buys EPL Access from administration

06 August 2009

Lavendon Group has acquired most of the assets of EPL Access Ltd, the well known UK vehicle mounted rental company that had entered administration a month ago.

Lavendon has paid £1.3 million in cash and assumed EPL's debts of £2.8 million. The acquisition includes 320 of EPL's 400 unit fleet, the company's brand name, and seven depots. (The 80 machines not acquired were units on operating leases that were coming to an end within 6 to 12 months.)

EPL is one of the UK's oldest access platform rental specialists, focusing on truck and van mounted platforms. It reported revenues of £8.1 million and an operating profit of £0.5 million for the year to September 2008.

Alan Merrell, Lavendon's finance director, told Access International that Lavendon will merge EPL with its current vehicle mount businesses, Skylift and Rise Hire, to form a single national vehicle mount division. The EPL name will be kept, and may well be combined with one of the existing brands, said Mr Merrell. The Panther division will retain its separate identity.

All 105 EPL staff are being taken on by Lavendon, including managing director John Jennings, although the integration of the business over the coming months will determine who stays with the business in the longer term.

Mr Merrell said there was an overlap of EPL's seven depots and that some (either EPL or Lavendon) would have to be closed. Lavendon said the integration would give annualised cost savings of £1.5 million, with a one-off cost or around £0.5 million.

Andy Wright, chief executive of Lavendon Access Services, which runs the group's UK businesses, said; "We are pleased to welcome the EPL Access team into the Lavendon Group. They have an excellent reputation for providing high levels of service to their customer base and they will now benefit from the additional operational support they can draw on from within the Lavendon Group".

Mr Merrell said that if the UK market continued to be difficult over the next 12 months - "and we expect it to be" - then there was likely to be other rental companies getting into financial difficulty. However, he said Lavendon would "be very, very choosy" about which companies it would buy.

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