Asset Alliance buys Hanbury Riverside


Asset Alliance has bought renowned commercial vehicle dealership Hanbury Riverside for an undisclosed sum.

The deal, including vehicle assets of more than £17m, completed yesterday (6 August) after more than six months of talks.

Asset Alliance, which gains its first depot in the South East in the acquisition, welcomed the links the West Thurrock site provides to London.

Hanbury Riverside director Lee Smith will remain at the depot with the same management team.

However the sale of the business marks the retirement of its remaining three directors: Glyn Davies, Philip West and non-active director Ian Wilson.

Davies, who bought the business under its previous name Riverside Commercials in 1997, told CM the directors had decided to sell in the face of “the shareholders all getting a bit older”.

“We had to really think about where we were going. We felt a great responsibility to our customers and staff to actually get the business into new hands. After a number of conversations with Asset Alliance there was a realisation that it was a good fit for both parties,” Davies said.

Asset Alliance CEO Willie Paterson said the group will treat the Hanbury Riverside legacy in the industry “very carefully” and that he thinks his business stands to learn from its newest acquisition.

“I am a great believer in the phrase don’t fix something if it’s not broken. The contract hire fits very well with the leasing and the sales business. We think there’s a leaf of two from Hanbury we can learn and adapt to the rest of our business.

“This deal is about partnership and growing together. And hopefully it will put us in a much stronger position in the market place. And it will hopefully put Hanbury in a stronger position, because they’ll have access to a bigger resource and bringing different products into the market for their customers as well.”

He added that there are no immediate plans to change the Hanbury Riverside name.

“It is a strong brand so we’re going to take our time and look at that and see where it goes. We have some different ideas that we’re looking to at the moment,” he told CM.

“We’re not in a great hurry to dramatically change anything. We want to be responsive to the customer and what they want.”

The deal will bring new product offerings into Hanbury’s portfolio, but remaining director Smith said that the business is well equipped to deal with the new stock opportunities.

He said: “We can now offer trailers and rigids and everything which we’ve never really been into. We’re going to have a lot more variety of stock and our customers will benefit from that.”

Davies’ retirement comes after almost 53 years in the road haulage sector.

He told CM: “There comes a point in time where you have to acknowledge that age catches up with you. And I’ve seen contemporaries of mine go on too long. I’ve had a very good run. It’s never particularly felt like work to me because I’ve always enjoyed it, but I’ve got a responsibility to the business to get it into the right place.

But Paterson added: “I suspect that Glyn won’t disappear over the horizon. I think we’re all very keen to have Glyn’s input. The handover and making sure that we get some benefit from his experience as well. But that’s entirely up to him.”

The Hanbury Riverside deal comes after a string of acquisitions from Asset Alliance, including its buying of ATE Truck and Trailer Sales in 2011 and Total Reefer in 2013.

Paterson said that while Asset Alliance has grown substantially through acquisitions, it had never bought a business that didn’t suit its operation and needs exactly.

“I think we’re always attracted to an opportunity,” he said, “but there’s a very deliberate structure to the business. We only bought businesses that we genuinely believe add value to the group and we’ve now got a good spectrum of businesses within the group that touch all the sectors we want to be in.”

In the wake of the Hanbury acquisition, though, Paterson said Asset Alliance’s medium-term focus will be optimising its current operations to win the business a place in the market top three in the next three years.

Pictured, left to right: Lee Smith, Willie Paterson and Glyn Davies

Worn tyre operator loses O-licence for infringements


Croydon-based Tyre Channel has had its O-licence revoked following a maintenance investigation that uncovered excessive periods between inspections and an ineffective system of driver daily walkaround checks.

In a written decision following a public inquiry (PI) in Eastbourne on 25 June, South Eastern and Metropolitan deputy traffic commissioner (TC) John Baker revoked the O-licence from 31 July and disqualified its sole director Anup Patel for six months from the same date.

Tyre Channel - a business involved in collecting worn tyres for export to India - held a restricted O-licence for two vehicles, which was granted in June 2014. After the business received an S-marked prohibition in May 2017, the DVSA carried out a maintenance investigation.

The November investigation showed no forward planning system in place for inspections, failings in relation to drivers’ hours compliance, no vehicle unit downloading of tachograph records taking place and, in addition, the firm had been operating four vehicles.

Another DVSA visit in April revealed that some recent preventative maintenance inspection (PMI) records had not been completed in full, no torque wrench was used when the operator carried out re-torqueing of wheel nuts and mileage was not being recorded on some driver defect sheets.

On 12 April, the business was still using a vehicle not specified on the licence - a day after a DVSA officer had spoken to Patel about the importance of not doing this. Another S-marked prohibition was issued in January, as well as an advisory notice and fixed penalty for a tachograph offence the following month.

Patel accepted that vehicle unit downloads had not been taking place but said driver infringements had been noted and actioned. With regards to the PMI problems, Patel said the maintenance contractors he relied on had let him down.

Brake tests were now taking place, he had attended a DVSA new operator seminar, there were much better MoT pass rates and improvements were being made in all areas. Baker said: “While improvements have been made leading up to the inquiry there is still a way to go and I have to ask myself if Patel is likely to sustain what has been achieved so far and make the further improvements required.

“Past behaviour is an indicator of what is likely to happen in the future and this does not bode well for the operator. In the four years since grant there has been very little effort made to find out what is required and to function as a compliant operator.”