Loxam launches city centre rental project

By Murray Pollok25 January 2012

The first LoxamCity branch opened in the Bastille area of Paris in November last year. More will fol

The first LoxamCity branch opened in the Bastille area of Paris in November last year. More will follow.

Loxam is launching a new project to open small rental stores in inner city areas targeting builders, electricians and plumbers working on city centre projects. The first LoxamCity store was opened in the Bastille quarter of Paris in November and Loxam plans further openings in the city as well as other French towns.

Patrick Rizzo, Loxam's director of marketing, told IRN that the new stores - typically 200-300 m2 in size and with a fleet or around 300 tools - will make rental available to professional tradesmen who do not find it easy to reach rental depots in the suburbs.

"The idea is to be close to city centre sites, targeting tradesmen and small builders with less than five or six employees", said Mr Rizzo, "They are doing a lot of work on renovating and refurbishing houses and shops in the centre of town."

Mr Rizzo said another benefit of the LoxamCity concept is that it exposes the company to a potentially large and stable market for renovation projects. "Work on big sites will decrease and will be more impacted by the crisis. The renovation and rehabilitation sector will be more stable."

The stores will also rent to private individuals and homeowners, although this type of customer has been in the minority since the trial store opened in November. The equipment is being targeted at professional users and is of the same quality as the rest of the Loxam fleet. Tools are being sized to fit in a car or small van and will not include compact equipment such as mini excavators.

Mr Rizzo said it was too early to say how big a market potential the new stores had, and also too early to say how many stores would be required in Paris, although he said it would be more likely to be 10 to 20 locations than 100. "We don't have a clear plan of store openings, because it is difficult to find shops in central Paris where it is easy to park and locations which are easy to find", he said.

"We are seeing a good trend [in the operations of the first store]", said Mr Rizzo, "We have customers who are interested. We have an opportunity because the Loxam brand is well known. And for some customers who already work with us, it gives them the chance to find tools inside Paris. After two months we are sure that there is a market for this."

The stores will be open for six days a week, opening around 7.00pm and closing at 6.00pm, and will typically be staffed by three workers. These staff have been chosen for their commercial as well as technical skills because "first level" maintenance will be carried out at the shops, said Mr Rizzo.

Although new to Loxam the ‘high street' store concept is not a new one in rental. The UK has a long tradition of inner city tool hire shops, most famously those operated by HSS, although HSS has recently retreated from the high street model to concentrate on bigger stores for its professional customer base. In France, Loxam's main competitor Kiloutou has been successfully operating city depots for a number of years.

Equipment at the LoxamCity story in the Bastille includes power tools, floor sanders, grinders, small scaffolding, pipe benders and cleaners, generators from 3 to 7 kVA, heaters, dehumidifiers and air conditioning equipment, vibratory plates, rammers and floor saws.

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