France’s Groupe CAT has bought 50% of the UK-based Carlson Vehicle Transfer (CVT) as the company continues its expansion drive in the vehicle logistics market with the acquisition of companies and assets. CVT, which moves around 250,000 new and auction vehicles per year, will allow Groupe CAT to offer transport directly to customers in the UK for the first time.
CVT, which will retain its brand and operation structure while remaining under the leadership of its former 100% owner, Carl Richardson, operates a current fleet of 80 trucks around the UK with an average age of around 2.4 years, among the youngest in the country, according to Frédérick Vaglio, communication manager for Groupe CAT. The group’s subsidiary in the country, CAT UK, is already offering vehicle releasing, terminal, compound and technical services.
The investment in an asset-based carrier is part of a recent strategy by Groupe CAT that has included purchases in asset-owning companies and in equipment and compounds across Europe. The CVT deal follows recent investments in fleets located in France, Benelux, Eastern Europe and Russia. The company has also made investments in the multi-modal space, where it owns two ships as part of a joint venture with Suardiaz Lines, SCSC. CAT has also bought rail wagons and compounds, including a 100%-owned distribution centre near to a Renault factory in Batilly, France at the end of last year.
According to Vaglio, Groupe CAT’s fleet in Europe now includes around 230 owned assets plus a subcontracted fleet of 1,038 dedicated trucks.
In an interview this past summer, Groupe CAT’s head of vehicle logistics, Antoine Namand, told Automotive Logistics that Groupe CAT’s goal was to own 1,000 assets alongside its subcontracted fleet, for a 50-50 split. Namand said that Groupe CAT was making a strategic shift from its previous non-asset or ‘asset light’ business to owning more equipment in the supply chain in an effort to exert more control over cost and operations. “We want to have more control over costs in the supply chain,” he said. (Read more here)
Groupe CAT reiterated this strategy last week in a release on the investment in CVT, where it said that by acquiring more of the resource-based business, CAT will give both its existing and target customers “more choice in robust and high-quality transport service providers”.
CAT was also likely attracted to the CVT investment as it seeks to further diversify its business beyond Renault, its former owner with whom it is facing the end or renegotiation of a five-year, dedicated contract in Western Europe in 2012. According to Namand, Renault now represents less than 60% of the group’s total business, although the figure is somewhat higher in the finished vehicle business than it is for spare parts distribution.
CAT UK had already made some recent progress in this diversification, as it is now the releasing agent in the country for both JLR and BMW. CVT’s main customers include Nissan UK, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover as well as the used-car auction house, Manheim Auctions.
According to Vaglio, there are no current plans to make any office or operational site moves between CVT and CAT UK, but rather both companies will “support each other in their mutual drive for growth”. Vaglio added that Groupe CAT does not currently foresee purchasing the remaining 50% stake in CVT.