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Ebbon-Dacs and Licence Check eye greater share of the market

Driver licence

The new owner of Licence Check is promising to overwhelm its competitors by combining the technical capabilities of both companies.

Ebbon-Dacs bought the compliance company, Licence Check, for an undisclosed sum, last year (fleetnews.co.uk, November 1, 2018).

It was a strategic acquisition for the firm, which provides web-based technology products to automotive manufacturers and the leasing industry.

Its Leaselink and Model platforms are already well-established in the market, but it hopes Licence Check and its Davis (Driver and Vehicle Information Solutions) cloud-based platform will help fulfil its ambitions in the compliance sector.

In their first interview since the acquisition was announced, Ebbon-Dacs directors Robert Pilkington and Craig Gibbin, and Licence Check managing director Richard Brown, told Fleet News the development of new products would be driven by customer need.

“There’s no point in developing something nobody is going to use,” said Gibbin. “It’s about focusing and prioritising those features that consumers want.”

Both firms will spend the next year talking to customers to better understand the opportunities for new products, which will be marketed under the Davis brand, while at the same time bringing together the technological capabilities of both businesses.

“In 2020, we want to blow the opposition out of the water with our technical offering,” said Pilkington.

“There’s the person checking side and there’s the vehicle checking side; it’s that holistic approach to compliance we want to take.

“We will be bringing new features and capabilities in that direction, but their development will be driven by the customer.”

Prior to the acquisition, Ebbon-Dacs had built its own mobile compliance technology under a different brand name and had begun trialling it with customers, but Gibbin said the Davis platform was “pitched perfect for the market” thanks to its user-friendly design and technology.

It was a customer of Licence Check’s and the developers of both businesses had worked together. Importantly, there was also a technical fit between technologies used by both companies.

Buying the business would help Ebbon-Dacs secure an opening in the compliance market, while it could help Licence Check expand it business further into new sectors, such as logistics and vehicle rental.    

Pilkington said: “We’ve always been an organic growth business, but we started to seriously think about and research potential acquisitions in the second-half of 2017.

“However, for our first acquisition we wanted to buy a profitable business, we wanted to buy an innovative business, we wanted to buy one that complemented our technology so we could share skills and knowledge.”

Gibbin said that it was a tough set of requirements to meet, but talks began between the two firms some 12 months ago and, after a period of due diligence, a deal was struck.

“Not only was Licence Check profitable, it was growing, which validated what we were seeing in the market,” he said.

Licence Check was established in October 2008 shortly before the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) launched its Electronic Driver Entitlement Checking Service (EDECS) overnight service.  

Prior to then, the company had provided manual driving licence checks as part of a vehicle leasing and fleet management package under a different trading name. 

The introduction of the DVLA overnight checking service allowed the company to specialise in this area under the management of Brown.

He told Fleet News he was now looking forward to developing the business with his new owners.

“We were impressed with Ebbon-Dacs’ technology platforms, which are complementary to our own, as well as their existing mobile applications, which we see as a great opportunity for development both here in the UK and Europe,” he said.

Ebbon-Dacs has already began to establish itself in Europe, with a presence in the Netherlands and Germany, and a soon to be announced large pan-European contract for both Leaselink and Model. In the longer-term, the compliance business is expected to benefit from that expansion.

Closer to home, both businesses expect the UK market to continue to grow. “Health and safety doesn’t get easier, it gets tougher,” said Pilkington. “In the next five years, particularly in the UK, we believe there is a great opportunity in the compliance sector and that could potentially broaden out to Europe where we already have other products in use.”  

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