Jobs at risk after rental merger

VEHICLE rental giant Northgate plc has confirmed the possibility of job cuts at the former Willhire vehicle rental business in East Anglia following its purchase of Arriva Vehicle Rental in early February.

VEHICLE rental giant Northgate plc has confirmed the possibility of job cuts at the former Willhire vehicle rental business in East Anglia following its purchase of Arriva Vehicle Rental in early February.

Northgate, which operates more than 100,000 vehicles from 100-plus locations throughout the UK, Ireland and Spain, said it would be rationalising offices and rental locations where there was overlap, and had begun a period of jobs consultation with employees.

Arriva had 34 branches across the UK, including Willhire rental sites in Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Chelmsford, Norwich, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough and Luton.

Speaking from Northgate's headquarters in Durham, managing director Phil Moorhouse indicated yesterday that the process would involve merging existing operations of the two businesses according to which sites, facilities and people offered the best solution.


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He said it was hoped to limit job losses by transferring employees where possible, adding that Northgate would continue to open new sites as part of its strategy to build on its leading position in the UK market.

“Since we bought Arriva's rental business two months ago, we've been going through a process of consultation and discussion with all the staff there.”

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“In East Anglia there are a number of sites and, depending on the location, we'll be keeping some sites open and moving some of our business into theirs where they have better facilities. It's a mixed picture.

“We are looking to identify the best people in the better locations and move forward with more sites,” he said.

Willhire was founded in 1964 by Roger Williams with just one mini-car, operating from Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, which has continued as the company's administrative centre despite several changes of management over the years. Arriva acquired the business in 1998.

The Barton Mills office today employs 35 staff, who are also in discussion with their latest owner regarding jobs. Northgate hopes to complete consultations with employees by the end of April.

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