In a separate move, Nixon has hooked up with a national tool hire chain to offer its customers small tools on a re-hire basis.
The reorganisation follows a period of self-contemplation during lockdown. Managing director Graham Nixon said: “I expect most businesses will have used this time to evaluate how their operations need to change to ensure efficiency and sustainability; Nixon Hire are no different.
Previously some Nixon depots stocked tools and some didn’t. Now, every depot will have access to tools by re-renting from one of the big chains.
Although the deal has been in place since 1st September, Nixon Hire said that it was not yet ready to reveal its supplier. Nixon has previously tied up in the other direction with Speedy, with Nixon supplying Speedy’s large plant requirements across the north of England and Scotland.
During the height of the initial coronavirus lockdown Nixon saw its customer base expand beyond construction as it supported the national effort, and this has led on to some permanent changes.
Nixon Hire supplied site equipment to support essential services, including site accommodation at Nightingale Hospitals, sanitisation products in schools, onsite sleeping accommodation at power plants, welfare facilities in hospital grounds and testing stations, and welfare vans used by utility companies undertaking emergency repairs.
Explaining the depot closures, Graham Nixon said: “During lockdown, we decided to create multi product hub depots for our equipment. Hub depots of this type means we can offer a wider range of products from one location, deploy product experts to ensure our equipment is not only maintained to the highest standard, but that we can meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of our customers. As we see demand increase for larger and more complex site setups, bespoke unit configuration and bespoke corporate branding, we need to develop how we deliver this.”
He continued: “The creation of the hub depots does impact on the current depot network and we have made the difficult decision to permanently close three depots: Berwick, Sunderland and Suffolk.”
He said that these three locations were not suitable for new-style hub facilities. “Berwick had long since outgrown its premises and has separate sites for plant and accommodation, which does not lend itself to a hub location. Sunderland and Suffolk were also very restricted in size and only offered a single product from their respective locations,” he explained.
Nixon Hire is also getting rid of its under-used large plant, for which demand has declined, but Graham Nixon is keen to stress that Nixon Hire has “absolutely no plans to withdraw from plant hire” despite the growth of the site accommodation side of the business.
He said: “Plant hire has been part of our fabric for 53 years and will continue to be for many more years to come. I have been asked this before following our decision last year to remove plant from Aberdeen, Highlands and Warrington (with the exception of contract hires). The reason for this was simple. We had seen higher demand for plant equipment in other areas of the depot network. It was therefore more commercially viable to move our plant to the areas of higher demand and fulfil plant enquiries for Aberdeen, Highlands and Warrington via our strong network of rehire partners.
“Across the sector, we’ve seen a downturn in the demand for large plant during and after lockdown. The majority of sites suspended plant equipment immediately and whilst sites are returning to work, demand is not as high as before. This has resulted in large plant utilisation falling, however we have reacted quickly to this by selling the lower utilised items and when construction levels return to normal, we will be placing orders to further enhance our reputation as one of the industry's major plant suppliers.”