Fleet News

Shoe chief steps in to head Kwik-Fit

THE head of UK shoemaker Clarks is leaving to head up the Kwik-Fit business - which is in the process of being sold by Ford to CVC Capital Partners.

Tim Parker will become chief executive of the as-yet unnamed company which is being formed to run Kwik-Fit once the purchase is complete.

Before working at the shoe firm, he was chief executive of Kenwood Appliances, which was floated on the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of £104 million in 1992, during his tenure.

European venture capital company CVC has assured fleets that maintaining a quality service is its key aim as it gears up to buy Kwik-Fit for £330 million in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Lex Service chairman Sir Trevor Chinn, who steps down from Lex at the end of this year, has already been named as the new venture's future chairman.

At Clarks, Parker has run a firm with a turnover of £1 billion and more than 15,000 employees.

During his time at the firm, he oversaw the strengthening of the Clarks brand, the reorganisation of the business and an increase in profits to record levels.

Sir Trevor said: 'Tim Parker will bring a wealth of retail and brand experience to the business, as well as the senior level counsel of an experienced CEO.

'I look forward to working with him to take this business to the next stage of its corporate development as an independent company.'

Once the sale is complete, Ford will keep a 19% stake in the fast-fit operation, to benefit from any future growth in the business that it bought for £1 billion in 1999.

European expansion will go ahead

KWIK-FIT Fleet executives insist the company will forge ahead internationally with its European expansion plans under new ownership.

The group said it plans to grow its presence in Europe considerably during the second half of this year.

It aims to open more service points taking its number of customer points to more than 2,500 - 2,700 including franchises - in eight European countries.

From its British base the company moved into Europe almost three years ago where it operates as Kwik-Fit Fleet, Speedy Fleet or Pit-Stop Fleet.

Kwik-Fit Fleet managing director Ron Bambra says expansion will continue, and has also pledged expansion into new countries where growth from fleet operations is giving the company sales above budget results.

Bambra said: 'Our growth is partly coming from leveraging major UK accounts with contract hire and leasing companies and partly owner fleets which have a pan-European bias.'

Until Kwik-Fit's move to develop a European network with a series of acquisitions the continental fleet market rarely used independent fast-fits, preferring to stay with franchised dealers for aftersales service.

'There was a focus on cars over four years old and it has taken time to educate the marketplace,' Bambra said. 'But we are now reaping the dividends of the work we have put in to develop a significant fast-fit infrastructure.'

The focus in most of the European markets is on supplying tyres, exhausts, batteries and brakes to fleets, while in Britain the company has also expanded into car and van servicing and windscreen repair and replacement from both standalone centres and mobile units.

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