River Island

Well-known High Street retailer River Island is renowned for its standout and affordable fashions and that is exactly what it wants from its chosen fleet management partner.

Operating a 250-strong outright purchased company car fleet and six light commercial vehicles, River Island has utilised the products and services of Venson Automotive Solutions since 2002.

The long-established partnership, which is renewed three-yearly, has flourished to the extent that Venson is now responsible for vehicle procurement and disposal, day-to-day fleet management, pay-on-use vehicle maintenance and accident management and River Island utilises its supplier’s bespoke duty of care solution, Venson Safeguard.

Furthermore, the business partnership is such that when River Island deputy fleet manager Jasbir Mahey is away, Venson effectively steps in and seamlessly aims to fulfill the role.

Delivering customer service excellence and value for money

Venson’s focus on delivering customer service excellence allied to a bespoke - rather than an off-the-shelf - value for money proposition has seen it deliver an enhanced range of solutions to River Island, notably in the last four years following a decision by the client to cut the strength of its in-house fleet team from three people to one.

Company car drivers - 60% of the fleet comprises essential users and 40% perk - have a choice of seven manufacturers: Audi, BMW/Mini, Citroen, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen. Employees have an open choice from those suppliers linked to a vehicle lease rate attached to their grade.

Historically, River Island undertook the procurement process in-house, but has now outsourced it to Venson. Similarly, on disposal - essential user cars and Ford Transit vans are operated on a four-year/100,000-mile replacement cycle and perk cars on a four-year/70,000-mile turn-round - the supplier takes charge with vehicles sent to auction having previously sometimes been acquired by employees.

Ms Mahey said: “Venson provided all vehicle in-life services so when the fleet department was restructured the decision was taken to simplify the procurement and disposal process and effectively hand over the management and logistics of both.”

“Outsourcing to Venson has enabled internal resources to be released, but our contract terms ensure that there is complete expenditure transparency via a consolidated monthly invoice.”

Ms Mahey continued: “We have total confidence that Venson is looking after our money as if it was its own. Our service charges have barely increased over the years, while we continue to receive fantastic service.”

River Island’s purchasing department which manages all contracts and regularly reviews the marketplace to ensure value for money is being delivered by Venson.

Taking the headache out of in-life vehicle management

The partnership between River Island and Venson has flourished after the vehicle leasing and fleet management company won a rigorous three-way tender.

River Island had been dissatisfied with its previous fleet management provider with vehicle downtime a particular issue and the resulting rise in temporary vehicle hire and therefore costs. What’s more, internal fleet department resource was being spent chasing up the provider on its delivery promises.

That experience, said Ms Mahey, had now been confined to history as she explained: “Nothing is too much trouble for the Venson team. I and our drivers have a single point of contact with full knowledge of the fleet.”

“Any issue that arises is managed to its conclusion by the Venson account management team dedicated to managing the River Island fleet. No issues have to be explained, it is in reality an extension of our internal fleet department with service consistency ensured.”

Review meetings are held six-monthly but the business relationship is such, said Ms Mahey, that any matter requiring clarification is resolved immediately.

Work-related road safety and accident management

Unfortunately, road traffic accidents are a fact of life. But River Island aims to manage occupational road risk by taking advantage of Venson Safeguard, the company’s bespoke programme that promotes a responsible driving culture and minimises prosecution in the event of an accident.

Furthermore, if an accident does occur Venson’s dedicated in-house team manages the problem acting as a central point of contact between all parties.

The accident management service includes: a 24x7 driver hotline, roadside recovery, claims management, vehicle downtime management including availability of a mobile bodyshop solution for smaller ‘bent metal’ repairs, uninsured loss recovery, non-fault accident management and pro-active risk management through detailed reporting and analysis.

Venson Safeguard is a five-point action plan that embraces: employee driving licence validation, documentation checks relating to privately-owned vehicles driven on business, driver risk assessment, driver training and total legislative compliance.

Ms Mahey said: “Vehicle downtime is costly to all fleets, as we experienced with our previous supplier. It is therefore essential that the whole accident process from first notification to the vehicle being returned to the road is tightly managed; a role Venson is excellent at performing.”

Conclusion

Venson’s mantra is “our customers are at the heart of everything we do” and that extends to taking a consultancy approach to advising River Island on fleet changes that may be required to be taken account of, for example, tax changes and new compliance regulations.

Ms Mahey said: “We receive regular information updates on how planned changes in legislation and procedures may impact on our current fleet policies and procedures. That enables us to take a view internally, confident in the knowledge that we have the best advice at our fingertips.

“As a result fully informed decisions can be made in consultation with Venson and in the safe knowledge that the River Island fleet will continue to operate along best practice lines.

“We are absolutely thrilled at the relationship we have with Venson. We believe the level of service we receive is the best.”

About River Island

River Island has been part of the UK High Street scene for almost 70 years. Today with more than 350 stores across the UK selling womenswear, menswear, children wear, footwear and accessories, the company also operates internationally throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe, as well as having six dedicated online sites operating in four currencies.

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