Belfast Telegraph

An open road for emerging fleet management company?

Ogilvie Group has the potential to grow its business in Northern Ireland - thanks to a £1.5m investment and the ability to deliver for its customer base

By Paul Gosling

The Ogilvie Group is a 60-year-old privately owned Scottish business with big ambitions for the new Belfast operation of its Ogilvie Fleet subsidiary.

"We plan to be the market leader in Northern Ireland," says its regional manager for Ireland, Jim Humphreys.

The Stirling-based group has a £170m turnover, of which the fleet business contributes £105m through its Stirling, England and Belfast offices. The parent group has four other subsidiary businesses: Ogilvie Construction, Ogilvie Homes, Ogilvie Communications and Ogilvie Developments.

Ogilvie Fleet has 10,500 vehicles under management, including 1,000 operating in Northern Ireland. The aim is to treble the size of business here in the next two to three years. As part of the development plans, the Northern Ireland office is in the process of moving into the centre of Belfast in the striking Quay Gate House, beside the Titanic Quarter.

"We are looking to Belfast for growing the business," says Mr Humphreys. "We are expanding the business (in Northern Ireland) to achieve growth for the group."

Ogilvie began operating in Northern Ireland 18 months ago through the acquisition of the car fleet operations of Contraflex. Until the end of last year, Ogilvie continued to manage the legacy business as it had previously been run. But that changed at the end of last year, with the engagement of four new staff – including Mr Humphreys – taking its staffing level up to seven.

"I have been in the contract hire industry in Northern Ireland for a long time and for all my working life in the motor industry in asset finance, hire purchase and contract hire," Mr Humphreys explains before adding, "Our target market will be corporate customers in Northern Ireland," though it is also seeking business in the Republic.

A variety of intensive marketing methods are to be used, including mail shot, targeted phone calls, visits by appointment and backed by an advertising and promotion campaign for which a leading PR agency has been engaged.

"We are great believers in talking face to face," says Mr Humphreys. "People buy from people." But winning awards is another key part of the marketing strategy. "Oglivie is very keen on marketing through awards," he continues. "They take customer care very seriously. They have won awards from different journals for the last three years. They listen to what customers say."

There is a real opportunity to grow the business locally, says Mr Humphreys. "Northern Ireland is unique," he insists. There is not the same penetration of fleet vehicle use here as in Great Britain. As a result there is what Ogilvie regards as a largely untapped market.

The commitment to Northern Ireland does not come cheap. "The investment is of close £1.5m," explains Mr Humphreys. "We will be part and parcel of the Northern Ireland scene. We are committed to Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph