After London “turmoil”, Aussie Man and Van moves forward
After “going bust” late 2011, iconic removal company Aussie Man and Van is back in business and already doing a roaring trade.
By Will Fitzgibbon
LONDON-based removal company Aussie Man and Van is back working the capital’s streets. After having collapsed in late 2011, Aussie Man and Van has been reborn thanks to the skill of its many Antipodean employees and the backing of a new owner in the form of British removal and storage heavyweight firm Anthony Ward Thomas.
Aussie Man and Van started life as the rag to riches success story of Australian Brian Burgess. But by late 2011, the company had run into serious financial trouble. As Australian Times reported in February this year, the company had entered into administration on 23 December 2011 and some clients had not heard of their goods since.
“The reality was that the business didn’t have enough cash to keep things going,” recalls Charles Rickards, who led purchase negotiations to take over the company and is now Director of Aussie Man and Van.
After Rickards and his team assessed the benefits that Aussie Man and Van’s instantly recognisable black and yellow trucks could bring to the well-established high-end removal company Anthony Ward Thomas, the deal with Burgess was done with fulgurous speed over a few days in February.
“Things were moving at a pretty high speed. The risk was high and the reward was high,” says Rickards.
In the months that followed, the management team at Anthony Ward Thomas set to work rebuilding Aussie Man and Van’s reputation and setting the company on a sure commercial footing. Older vans were given a refurbishment and were joined by 11 new four-wheeled team members.
Rickards and others began by repairing relations with Aussie Man and Van staff, some of whom had not been paid for months, and disgruntled clients.
The company is confident that the victims of Aussie Man and Van’s recent “turmoil” have been addressed. According to Mark Prout, the new Aussie Man and Van Managing Director: “everything has been rectified that we know about. The only thing we don’t know about is that if people haven’t got back to us.”
Brian Burgess is no longer an employee of the company, says Rickards, but an ad hoc adviser for the new owners.
A customer who had contacted Australian Times regarding his consignment of Internet servers after the original story appeared has since confirmed that Rickards has been in touch with him personally and a resolution is in sight.
Today, Aussie Man and Van has left the chaos of 2011 behind it. At their new offices in West London, chirpy Kiwi “bros” and Aussie “mates” mingle energetically under a mizzling mid-May sky. The staff say they are excited by the new changes and by the sparkling new vans that are coming off the production lines.
With the arrival of summer, London’s busiest period for removals, Aussie Man and Van is readying for business.
“We had the equivalent of 40 [vans] on the road last week,” says Prout, who finds himself in the enviable position of managing a highly-sought after company with an A-grade contact list.
In addition to Aussie Man and Van’s client base of young professionals, the company also has had Buckingham Palace, supermodels and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson knock on its door.
Rickards reports that sales more than doubled over the two months from the time of acquisition in February 2012 and he is hoping for still stronger growth.
For Rickards, the company’s Australian and New Zealander employees are central to the company’s success.
“They tend to be very hard working, diligent, good on their feet,” he says. “The fact that they’ve come travelling and come to the other side of the word suggests they’ve got something about them. They tend to be well-educated and good with customers. To use an Aussie phrase, they’re very ‘can do’ people.”
And if that sounds like recruitment speak, it may well be. Aussie Man and Van is currently hiring and looking for new employees, in preparation for what it hopes will be its busiest summer yet.