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Executive Report : Executive news
AWARD-WINNING HIRER ADMITS FRAUD: ‘PRE-PACK’ CONFIRMED
We are immensely proud of our annual Passionate Hirer Awards and, since their inception in 2008, we have consistently highlighted companies which operate to the highest standards and demonstrate outstanding industry practice. Our 2016 winner was Yeovil-based YHC Hire Services Ltd, which was trading as YHC Hire Solutions. In our interview with MD Andy Parker, published in June that year, he commented, “We regard ourselves as ambitious and entrepreneurial, able to seize any opportunity quickly.”
Sadly, we now have to report that Andy Parker’s fine words three years ago may have got the better of him. On 25 October, he was sentenced at Taunton Crown Court to ten months in prison, suspended for 18 months, having pleaded guilty to an attempted VAT fraud. He was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.
The details, as published on the Somerset Live website, make for sorry reading. Ignoring the sensational newspaper comments, the facts are that, between 1 October 2018 and 14 March this year, Andy Parker submitted seven high value doctored invoices for goods totalling £948,720 from the same supplier, in an attempt to fraudulently claim almost £150,000 in VAT. HMRC became suspicious and launched an investigation, which discovered the faked documents.
Andy Parker’s lawyer argued that YHC Hire Services Ltd had faced significant cash flow difficulties after receiving a £600,000 tax bill following poor financial advice. The amount was later reduced to £400,000 on appeal, but Andy Parker was only able to raise £250,000, leaving a near £150,000 shortfall. In sentencing him, the Judge said the crime was so severe that it would normally have resulted in a custodial sentence.
Companies House latest
Inevitably, this led to Andy Parker’s resignation as a Director of YHC Hire Services Ltd. According to Companies House, he resigned on 30 September, just five days after he was found guilty in Yeovil Magistrates Court. Andy’s brother, Ashley Parker, who is Manager at YHC’s Yeovil depot, was re-appointed a Director of that company on 25 September, having resigned back in April 2011.
Events have moved swiftly since. Companies House reveals the formation of a new company just eight days before Andy Parker’s Crown Court sentencing. The new limited company name is Purple Hire Solutions Ltd. The Directors of this company are Ashley Parker, with Adrian Philip Rozario, a new name in this unfolding drama, as Finance Director. Two other people registered as ‘active persons of significant control’ are Andy’s and Ashley’s wives.
In response to this information, the original version of our article read, ‘The formation of a new company so close to his sentencing is a worrying development, and we must hope that the new Directors are not transferring assets from one company to another ahead of a ‘pre-pack’ sale.’
Our worst fears were realised a day or so later. On 30 October, it was confirmed that, one day - repeat one day - after Administrators were appointed, they completed a ‘pre-pack’ sale of the business to Purple Hire Solutions Ltd. The new company’s acquisition of the business and assets of YHC Hire Services Ltd was then confirmed to suppliers on 4 November.
Attempting to conclude this scandal on Bonfire Night as we go to press, the first conclusion is that Andy Parker has acted shamefully. His own reputation has gone up in flames, as has that of his company. We have no idea, as yet, of the amounts of money that creditors have lost as a result of this ‘pre-pack’ sale. No doubt we’ll know more in the days and weeks ahead.
Last line. For now. We demand the safe return of our Award, last seen hanging on Andy Parker’s office wall during our interview in April 2016.
Nixon’s green success
Nixon Hire has announced that in just four weeks, more than 129 tonnes of carbon emissions were saved on a single customer’s site as a result of using its Solar Pod product. This is said to be equivalent to planting 5,890 trees.
Nine of these were used to power 30 of the hirer’s Snoozepod sleeper cabins, made by AJC EasyCabin, without requiring access to a mains supply or a separate generator.
MD Graham Nixon said, “We have heavily invested into the ever-growing renewables sector. Solar Pods generate energy by harnessing sunlight via solar PV panels. This energy is either instantly converted into power, or surplus is stored in an internal battery bank. The unit is further supported by a back-up generator which only kicks in when the solar resource has been depleted.”
Husqvarna buys Wacker Neuson concrete trowel business
Wacker Neuson Group has sold its concrete power trowel business to the Husqvarna Group, as it focuses on core products.
Wacker Neuson will continue to offer trowels as part of its product range throughout 2020 within the framework of an OEM agreement with Husqvarna, and will continue to supply spare parts and services to its customers beyond that date. The Group’s business with concrete internal and external vibrators remains unaffected by the sale.
New Boels UK MD appointed
Asif Latief is to join Boels UK on 1 January 2020 as Managing Director. He was previously Marketing Director with A-Plant, having held a number of senior management positions since joining them in 2002.
Pierre Boels, CEO of Boels Rental said: “I am delighted to welcome Asif to the Boels team. His extensive experience coupled with his knowledge of the equipment rental market will be invaluable as we look to accelerate our growth.”
Asif Latief will take over the responsibility of Chris Haycocks, who will leave Boels UK at the end of January 2020 together with Scott Mulley.
Boels UK recently re-located its Shrewsbury depot to a purpose-built facility opposite its previous building in the town’s Centurion Park trading estate.
Hirebase completes charity challenge
Almost 50 personnel from Hirebase and Buildbase depots travelled more than 1,000 miles in a novel initiative for their chosen charity, Cancer Research UK.
The Hirebase Two-wheel Challenge allowed teams of staff to choose any two-wheeled vehicle to complete 17 stages between the hirer’s mostly northerly branch in Shetland to its most southerly in Exmouth. By the time the route was completed, the team had raised £17,595.
Power Electrics acquires PE Generators
Power Electrics (Bristol) Ltd is expanding its business and brand with the acquisition of Power Electrics Ltd (trading as PE Generators). Power Electrics previously held a 15% shareholding in the business and completed the acquisition on 1 November.
The acquisition sees the group grow from four depot locations to six, spreading from Southampton to Glasgow. It will see an increase of over 30% of the total number of generators available for hire and the number of employees will grow to more than 300 across the business.
NMA refocuses on hire market
It was back in 1968 when Neil McEwen, MD of NMA (Agencies) Ltd, returned from an exhibition in Germany with two flat-packed 12in circular saws in the back of his estate car. Such was the humble beginning of a trading relationship with the German Scheppach manufacturing company, which still continues.
As Scheppach turned its marketing attention to DIY products, NMA’s involvement with the hire industry lessened. However, in late 2018 it was appointed sole UK importer and distributor for Zipper-Maschinen, an Austrian supplier of products ranging from rotary hammer drills, breakers, plate compactors, floor saws, rotary sweepers and mini dumper trucks, to concrete mixers, dehumidifiers, portable generators and garden machinery.
Hiding his age and how long ago it was when he should have retired, Neil McEwen told EHN, “I feel that Zipper has now brought me full circle and once again I hope to re-connect with the UK hire industry. Who knows? There may be one or two out there who may still remember me. That is if they are still vertical.”
Toga nominated for Hire Network Award
The Barking depot of Toga Hire Centres has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Hire Network Award, which recognises excellent performance at an individual location.
“Depot Manager Karen Denyer and the rest of the Barking team consistently deliver high quality service, supplying a range of tools and equipment throughout the East London area,” Hire Network MD Barry Dean told EHN. Two other finalists will be selected before the end of the year, with the winner being announced at the Executive Hire Show.
Makita assists Bahamas hurricane relief
Makita has supplied a range of chainsaws to a UK charity to assist with humanitarian response work in the Bahamas following hurricane Dorian.
DART (Disaster Arborist Response Team) International UK delivers aid and training to communities affected by disaster worldwide. Makita supplied 50cc and 79cc chainsaws for use by arborists clearing debris and creating safe access ways.
IPAF appoints new CEO
The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has appointed Peter Douglas as its new CEO and MD. He was previously Operations Director with Nationwide Platforms.
“I am delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to lead such a well-recognised and respected global safety, technical and training organisation,” he said. “I am looking forward to the challenge of making the powered access industry worldwide as safe as it possibly can be.”
Formed in 1983, IPAF has grown into a worldwide federation, delivering training, safety guidance and technical expertise in multiple languages in 70 countries.
MCS opens German office
Hire software specialist, MCS, is expanding into Germany, Austria and Switzerland with the opening of a new office in Dusseldorf. This follows rapid growth for the company in these markets over the last year.
MCS also reports strong growth throughout Europe, with a 100% increase in the last 12 months. One recent customer is Bigman GmbH, which hires access platforms in the South Tyrol and northern Italy, and needed a system in both German and Italian. The software also enables personnel to use mobile apps and to reduce paperwork.