The deal, believed to be the biggest ever fleet maintenance agreement signed in the UK, sees BT Group transition its 40,000 light commercial vehicles to Holman from September 30, while its smaller fleet of around 1,000 cars will go to Arval UK.
While acknowledging the size of the task ahead, Knight – who replaced former incumbent David Myers last month – said the business had been “working in the background” in preparation for the potential loss of the business.
She said: “This is about natural evolution. We have been building up to focus on this for the past couple of years as we knew the contract was up this year. We have advanced conversations in place to backfill that volume.”
Knight claimed that Rivus’s over-reliance on one customer “isn’t good” while the loss of the contract would create much needed capacity in the network that would allow the company to “diversify” the “breadth and depth” of the customer base.
“As we stayed coupled to BT, it choked the capacity across our network ,” she said.
“This business has gone from being the service arm of BT to a standalone business. And it has become profitable again – when the business was acquired, it wasn’t set up that way.”
While the loss of BT will halve Rivus’s managed van fleet to around 40,000 (it also has maintenance contracts for around 40,000 HGVs and 10,000 cars), it essentially means the business will return to the same size – 80,000 assets – as when it was first acquired. In addition, recent contract wins with the Metropolitan Police and SGN will replenish 5,400 vehicles.
“We will be announcing more contracts in the coming weeks and months, but we are interested in speaking to any mission critical fleet,” Knight said.
“The Met Police opens up opportunities in the bluelight space and that’s where some of the conversations are taking place.”
In an apparent jab at BT Group’s demands for improved terms, she added: “Any contract needs to make commercial sense – we can’t look at contracts that don’t stack up financially and that is part of the parting of ways (with BT).”
Rivus has been bullish in its statements to the Communication Workers Union, saying it intends to continue its workforce recruitment and training plans. It owns 78 garages, with the rest of the network approved partners. Around 45 are on land owned by BT, but the lease contracts are not up until 2030.
Knight does anticipate a TUPE element in the transition of services but has yet to speak to Holman about which positions and people might be involved.
She concludes: “We have a big challenge, but I am very confident that we will meet it.”