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Executive Hire News › Archives › April/May 2018 › Executive Report : Linacre looks forward

Executive Report : Linacre looks forward

Now under new management, Linacre Hire of Merseyside is broadening its activities and has plans for expansion. Alan Guthrie reports.

The names of some of the pubs that you pass by as you drive through St Helens remind you of the town’s industrial heritage, with references to activities like glass blowing and mining. While it does not stretch back quite as far, Linacre Hire also has a long history and is now undergoing something of a rejuvenation.

The original business dates back to 1969, having started up in nearby Bootle repairing tools and equipment, and was named after the road on which it was located. It soon added a sales operation and a hire activity, and grew in the 1970s to eventually have three depots in Liverpool, Warrington and St Helens, having quickly outgrown the Bootle premises. In 1998 a management buyout took place, led by George Ames, and the hire fleet was expanded until the 2008 recession. The company scaled back its operation, leaving the one outlet at its current St Helens site.

Opportunities in the hire market

Another change in ownership came about quite recently and in an unexpected manner, as current MD Chris Brennand told EHN. “George is my next-door neighbour and one day in October 2015 I took round a letter for him that had been put through my door by mistake. We started chatting and he told me he was considering retiring. I had previously worked for several builders’ merchants and timber merchants in and around Liverpool and I could see opportunities in the hire market. I joined the business as a Director in June 2016 and eventually acquired it, becoming MD the following January.

“All five personnel were retained and new appointments included Dan Withe as Operations Manager, who I had worked with previously, and John Balmforth as Sales Account/Branch Manager, who has 33 years’ experience with HSS and was more recently with the supplier North West Tools (Entwistle & Joynt Ltd).

“We have been developing the hire fleet, increasing our sales activities and essentially adding a merchant-type operation to the hire business. We can see what items tradesmen and other customers need for the tasks they are undertaking and, by offering these, they can get them from one source. We are re-branding the company to reflect Linacre Hire’s ability to provide hire, sales and repair services, and I am very keen to take the company back to its roots, having grown initially by introducing more equipment and services for its customer base. We also offer wholesale services, supplying other hirers and merchants, because of our links with manufacturers and suppliers of tools, PPE, consumables and other essential items.”

Refreshing the equipment fleet

The company has been busy refreshing its equipment fleet. At the Executive Hire Show in February it placed an order for mobile aluminium tower systems from Lyte Ladders & Towers, for example, and it has been adding more suppliers of items for both hire and sale such as OX tools and consumable, Duro diamond blades and core drills, Fairport concreting equipment and pumps, Genie beam lifts and Portwest workwear.

Linacre Hire even has a contract with a local council to supply rock salt during icy weather to isolated and vulnerable people in the community. Households in remote areas are entitled to a free bag of salt to keep pathways clear. The company obviously knows the nearby area well and it can be more flexible in making deliveries quickly to the various locations, especially in an emergency situation.

In addition, the company is developing an already popular online sales activity, supplying workwear, consumables and other items. Again, this operation benefits from the links that the business has with manufacturers and suppliers, and these products are sold both to existing customers and to new clients who find Linacre Hire via the Internet or social media.

More depots planned

The business plans to open more depots in the future. “There is almost no limit to the scale of what we want to achieve,” said Chris Brennand. “If an opportunity arises to expand, and not just in our immediate area, we would certainly consider it. The initial target is to have five depots by 2020, and we plan to open our second depot within six months, on a currently empty site. There is also a possibility of establishing our third location through the acquisition of a builders’ merchant. If that comes about, we will introduce a Linacre Hire operation alongside it.

“This growth will obviously necessitate additional fleet investment and more people. We could recruit existing hire professionals, of course, but if you have robust policies and procedures in place already, I believe you can train anyone in the correct ways of running a hire business. Entrants from outside the industry obviously have no preconceptions or bad habits. Success is all about attitude more than anything else.

“It also depends on having a flexible business model. If you have a network of depots, you should treat them almost like independent hire operations, with the local management empowered to make decisions that best suit the need of the local customer base. They ultimately want to satisfy their clients, make their branch a success and contribute to the overall business. It is ultimately driven by the customer and in having people who care about them and the company.” •

www.linacrehire.co.uk

     
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