The UK’s leading independent stationer - office2office plc (o2o) – has taken its transport operations in-house with a new, Mercedes-dominated fleet of over 100 vans and trucks.

o2o has contract-hired its new fleet, which includes 29 Mercedes trucks of various sizes and 45 Mercedes 311CDI Sprinter vans, through Bradford-based Hill Hire Plc. A further 50 Mercedes vehicles will be added to the fleet in 2003 to replace short-term hire vehicles. The move forms part of the company’s strategic objective to provide the highest levels of service in its industry.

The decision to go for in-house drivers and vehicles was made to ensure full control over service levels to customers, and to secure cost-savings. "Using a third party carrier inevitably means you’re paying for more than the cost of the job – because the carrier has to make a profit too," says National Distribution Manager Simon Stretch. "We’ve looked at the figures and expect to make some very significant savings."

By running its own vehicles and drivers o2o has been able to raise both its profile and its level of customer service.

"It’s not only about controlling our own deliveries," Mr Stretch continues. "Now, when a consignment arrives at a customer’s premises the vehicle is in o2o livery and the driver is an o2o employee wearing an o2o uniform. If the customer has any problems or queries he can speak directly to a representative of our company."

The decision to place the bulk of the order with Mercedes Benz was taken jointly by Hill Hire and o2o, and is already paying dividends. As well as being popular with the company’s drivers, the Sprinters that make up the majority of the fleet are turning in an impressive fuel performance.

"We had been using Iveco vans on short-term rental, but the Sprinters are a huge improvement – as much as five or six mpg better in some cases," says Mr Stretch.

As well as the Sprinters, the new fleet includes 25 Atego 815 box vans, an 18-tonne Atego rigid, and three 4x2 Actros tractor units.

Jeff Epps, Business Development Manager at Hill Hire, says: "The planning of the fleet started with the Sprinter. It’s ideally suited to o2o’s application, in which delivery drivers might do 20 or 30 drops a day, as it has excellent access through the cab to both side and rear doors.

"o2o also needed some rigid trucks for their bigger deliveries, and the tractor units for overnight trunking between depots. The fact that Mercedes Benz could supply all the vehicles in factory Calcite Yellow, which is very close to one of o2o’s corporate colours, was also a factor in saving both cost and delivery time."

All the Mercedes were supplied by Bradford dealership Northside Truck Centre. "The final roll-out of the fleet will be complete by early 2003," says Mr Stretch. "We’ll need about another 50 vehicles, which we will lease again, as well as taking a few on short-term hire to give us flexibility."

Published : 16/12/02 Author : Melanie Carter

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