Fleet News

Soapbox: Recession? Not in the van world

The country may be sliding towards financial meltdown, but TREVOR GELKEN argues that the LCV sector will still remain buoyant


Every day, the headlines in the papers get gloomier and gloomier.

House prices are falling, the ‘R’ word (recession) is on everyone’s lips and the poor unfortunate souls in America who were conned into taking out huge loans they never had a hope in hell of paying off continue to be thrown out on to the streets as the banks foreclose on them.

It’s as grim a situation as I can remember since the bad old days of 1990, when recession slammed into Britain like a hurricane.

I was one of the fortunate ones who held on to a job and a house but many of my colleagues struggled for years through negative equity – and indeed some of them lost their jobs as Fleet News and Fleet Van, like everyone else, suffered from a downturn in revenues.

It seems that the lessons learned from those awful times were soon forgotten as banks began lending money recklessly and the ‘loadsamoney’ philosophy from the Thatcher days started rearing its ugly head again.

“Do you only own ONE house?” I was asked recently at a party one night.

When I replied yes, the guy said he thought I was mad.

No, I thought, I’m not mad. The people who are mad are the banks who seem to have gone totally doolally and forgotten the basic rules of finance.

The banks who have been lending people eight, nine, 10 times their annual salary as if there was no such thing as tomorrow.

It was bound to end in tears – but whose tears will they be?

I certainly won’t be shedding any for the big institutions.

Indeed, they don’t need tears for, despite the current hoo-hah in the finance markets, they’ll still eventually be sitting pretty, making billions of pounds profit a year on the backs of working people like you and me.

There will be tears ahead for many sectors of Great Britain plc, but you know what?

I can predict with relative confidence that the van fleet industry, the great family that you and I belong to, will largely remain unscathed through the ugly times ahead.

I have many reasons to think this – and one is a headline I read in the Sunday Times the other week which stated:

‘Shopping on the internet predicted to command half of sales by 2018’.

Just think – already £53 billion worth of goods were bought via the web last year and by 2018 this figure should rise to £150 billion.

And every one of those items – food, Christmas gifts, flower pots, sex aids, you name it – will be delivered by van.

The sheer power of the internet was brought home to me last Christmas when my partner decided to do ALL her Xmas shopping – presents, food etc – on the net.

For a month before December 25, virtually every day someone turned up in a van with a box.

That’s great news if you run a fleet of delivery vans and great news to know that the UK internet spend is going to continue rocketing.

But, just think how many other people will also benefit.

The van makers will obviously cash in as they’ll be selling more vans and will have to employ more people to
make them.

The finance houses will be cashing in as people will be borrowing money to buy vans.

They’ll be employing more people too.

The garages will be employing more people to service those vans.

The firms who operate the vans will be employing more people to run those fleets.

The filling stations will be employing more people to sell fuel to fills those vans...

And of course, talking personally, a booming van industry means a whole load of new topics for me to write about in Fleet Van.

The list goes on and on and added together it makes for a sparkling future for most of us.

Yes, it’s pretty certain that times are going to be VERY tough and challenging for us all in the next few years.

But I’m up for that challenge and I hope my readers are too.

Together we can succeed!

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