The chairman and founder of The Grosvenor Group, Brian Johnson, has died aged 74.
He passed away peacefully with his family around him at The Wellington Hospital, London, on February 18.
Born in 1945, Johnson began his career in the motor industry as a salesman for Croyland Motors in Wellingborough in 1967.
Following a stint as managing director of Reliance Leasing, he went on to establish Grosvenor Leasing in 1981, which now sits at number 23 in the FN50 – the country’s top 50 leasing companies by risk fleet size.
Further acquisitions paved the way to develop The Grosvenor Group, which is now recognised for well-known leading brands such as Interactive Fleet Management, York Ward and Rowlatt, and Croyland Car Megastore.
The role of chairman will be taken by his daughter Nicky Johnson, managing director of Interactive Fleet Management. His son Richard will continue in his role as managing director of subsidiary companies Holmere Developments and Croyland Rentals.
Shaun Barritt, the Grosvenor Group’s CEO, said: “For those of you who knew Brian, he was an innovator and a trailblazer in the automotive sector.
“He launched a number of industry firsts, perhaps the best-known being the retailing of ex-contract hire vehicles direct to the public rather than processing all ex-hires through the auction houses – something that many other leasing companies said couldn’t be done, but however very shortly after adopted.
“Brian led by example, never asking his staff to do anything that he would not do himself, no matter how menial the task. He was a true mentor who inspired others to achieve both their personal and business aspirations.”
Trade association the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association also paid tribute.
BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “On behalf of the BVRLA, I would like to extend our sympathy and thoughts to Brian’s family, friends and colleagues.
“I’d also like to acknowledge his immense contribution as one of the founding fathers of the vehicle leasing industry who paved the way for the successful, innovative sector we see today.”