A 10-week programme that involved the sourcing, equipping and branding of a new fleet of more than 200 vans to meet Europe’s largest social housing maintenance contract has been completed. Wates Group went live with the £50 million-per-annum contract, which could last up to eight years, with Birmingham City Council on April 1.
Ted Sakyi (pictured), who joined Wates Group in January, having previously been in charge of the Transport for London fleet, was responsible alongside a newly created centralised fleet department for overseeing the creation of the all-new fleet.
In less than three months, the fleet team had to source 129 Renault Kangoo, Trafic and Master panel vans and 25 Vauxhall Movano dropside vehicles via Arval on a four-year/ 80,000-mile, fully-maintained contract.
It also appointed West Wallasey Fleet Hire Services as vehicle rental partner, with an immediate requirement for 32 Fiat, Ford and Renault vans, sourced on long-term rental agreements. A further 46 vehicles, mostly Vauxhall Vivaro models, were sourced by Dodd Group, the gas installation partner on the contract, branded with Wates Group livery.
In addition, Bott was appointed to undertake van racking and signage on the new vehicles and Matrix Telematics equipped all the vans with telematics.
Sakyi said of the fleet deal, valued at around £2.5 million over four years, including racking, livery and telematics: “All vehicles needed to be ready and allocated to employees for mobilisation when the contract went live so there was little room for manoeuvre.
“It was the most challenging fleet solution that I’ve had to manage, working to both a tight budget and timeline to get the vans mobile and with a multitude of supplying partners.
“There were sleepless nights and lessons were learned, but constant communication with all partners was key.”
Exact timelines were essential for vehicles to be transported – including the Renaults being shipped from France to Southampton – to Bott for racking and livery work to be undertaken, prior to onward transportation to Birmingham and handover to operatives.
With more than 350 employees being transferred from Birmingham City Council’s previous maintenance provider to Wates, vehicles were equipped with telemetry units prior to being allocated.
While all suppliers played a significant role in the provision of the fleet, Sakyi particularly praised Arval for its commitment, involving a team of people led by national sales manager Liam James.
Andy Fuller, Arval corporate sales director, said: “To identify, specify, kit out and deliver 154 bespoke commercial vehicles within a three-month period was a challenging timeframe to work within.
“Liam and his team did a fantastic job, working closely with the customer to deliver an effective solution.”
Sakyi continues his task of reviewing the entire Wates Group transport travel operation. Now numbering around 1,100 light commercial vehicles, there are also 291 company cars, 1,300 employees taking a cash allowance in lieu of a company car and a number of employees driving their own cars on company business.
Until Sakyi’s appointment, group vehicles were managed at a local level by fleet administrators, who have subsequently been reassigned to other roles following the creation of the centralised fleet department, which also includes fleet manager Neil Pomeroy and three fleet administrators.
Sakyi and the fleet team are undertaking a root-and- branch review of the entire operation that will see standardisation in terms of vehicle funding methods, vehicle manufacturers and leasing partners.
Vehicles will typically be sourced from three manufacturers – Fiat, Renault and Vauxhall – and via three instead of eight leasing suppliers on a total-cost-of-ownership basis. Cars and vans will be sourced a year in advance, with bulk orders placed to obtain best value.
Sakyi said: “We are reviewing the entire fleet operation over the next 12 months with a focus on delivering best practice, best-value consistency across the group and further occupational road risk management solutions, including looking at the fitment of in-cab cameras to vans.”