The new boss at Nexus Vehicle Management believes the private equity-backed business has the potential to tap into a growing trend in outsourcing.
David Brennan became chief executive officer of the rental vehicle broker at the beginning of the month, after more than eight years as managing director of leasing giant LeasePlan.
It’s a career move that could be considered by some as courageous, even curious, but Brennan doesn’t see it like that. “This may be a smaller business, but it’s a fast-growing business,” he told Fleet News.
“There is a big opportunity in terms of outsourcing. Lots of companies, manufacturers, finance houses and end-user fleets are looking at how they can get their jobs done in a more effective way through outsourcing.”
Nexus has indeed gone from strength-to-strength since it was acquired by ISIS Equity Partners in an £11 million deal in 2008. The scale and potential of the business was quickly transformed by Nexus buying the vehicle rental management arm of FMG Support.
Turnover grew five-fold from £6.8m to £32.8m in the first two years, giving it the confidence to complete the acquisition of Adapted Vehicle Hire in 2010; securing an important supplier in a strategically-important market segment of providing vehicles for disabled drivers.
This has paid dividends. Nexus was listed for the second consecutive year in the Sunday Times Profit Track 100 in 2013, a national league table of private companies with the fastest-growing profit over the past three years.
It was named at number 34 after recording significant annual profit growth of 70% to £4.6m, increasing employee head count to 90 and growing customer numbers, including major blue chip clients.
ISIS says its early acquisitions proved the scalability of Nexus way beyond expectations, and eventually led it to Brennan’s door in an effort to grow the business even further.
He was invited for a chat and was able to look at the business and assess its potential for growth. “Through those conversations I became certain that this was the right career move,” said Brennan.
However, the offer of an undisclosed stake in the company, and the opportunity to swap a 250-mile commute for a 22-mile drive to the offices of Nexus from his Yorkshire home, may have also helped seal the deal.
Brennan says that his industry experience will give the business a fresh perspective.
“I can provide a broad overview of what’s going on in the fleet market; assess the needs of different customer types and segments, and look at what propositions we can build here to grow the business,” he said.
The company’s success is largely due to its booking tool, IRIS, which last year achieved its one millionth booking.
Brennan believes it has the capability to be extended beyond the vehicle rental market into other applications helping the company to grow further. “That excites me,” he said.
IRIS is one of the most widely-used rental management systems in the UK, including by LeasePlan, which – while under Brennan’s stewardship – selected Nexus to be its vehicle rental partner.
He said: “I saw the way it transformed the customer service experience, how it moved people away from telephone to online bookings and therefore I had the confidence that I was going into a business where I knew the products were good.”
IRIS underwent a major refresh last year and was relaunched with a range of new features centred around speed, convenience and the ability for users to personalise the platform.
Brennan said once he has assessed how Nexus can grow its core business, he will look at what other products and services it can build from its technology base that will give customers added value.
He explained: “Transacting online is a very low cost way of getting business done. If we can create something that takes away all the hassle, makes it easier for you to do your job and can manage a service in a way you don’t have to worry about it at all, then I think we will have some value to add.”
LeasePlan has announced that Matt Dyer, who has been commercial director for the past four years, will replace Brennan as the company’s new MD.
Read about Dyer’s plans in the next issue of Fleet News.