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Three decades at the top

23/02/2018 | General

Since the Australian franchise-model emergency hose repair business entered the UK market in 1988, Pirtek has grown to become the dominant force in the sector. Having opened the door of its pilot hose centre towards the end of 1988, Pirtek is celebrating its 30th anniversary; a three decade period of growth, network expansion and product and service innovation.

The concept of Pirtek – a network of independently-owned but closely linked hose centres supported by fully-equipped mobile workshops – was brought to this country by Pirtek UK founders and franchising veterans, Peter Brennan and Forbes Petrie, following a fact-finding mission to Australia, where the Pirtek business model was established.

Having acquired the master licence, the pair set up the UK’s first dedicated hose centre in London’s Park Royal; a facility that would double as the home of Pirtek UK for the next five years. Within 18 months, the network had doubled in size with the sale of the first real franchise, Pirtek Greenwich.

Just five years later, the network comprised more than 20 centres and Pirtek had outgrown its Park Royal home. Pirtek Park Royal was sold and the head office operation moved to its current home in Acton, west London. The network continued to grow in the UK and with the opening of the Dublin centre in 1994, Pirtek began a similarly fruitful iteration of its business model in the Irish Republic.

Pirtek then turned its attention to continental Europe, quickly establishing a footing in Germany, and the Benelux countries in 1996. The following year proved similarly significant in Pirtek’s history as the company netted the coveted British Franchise Association (BFA) Franchise of the Year award.

“We had the right product and quality service in the right place at the right time,” says Pirtek’s Paul Dunlop, who has been with the company for 25 years.

“We had a superb range of products and services and we were offering them at a time when the growth in self-employment had made franchising desirable and when many industrial companies were seeking to outsource what had previously been conducted in-house.”

Pirtek UK clocked up 60 centres within its first 10 years. “By 1998, we had around 200 mobile workshops on the road and were already seen as the benchmark for the emergency hose replacement sector,” Dunlop continues.

“We continued to innovate, adding new products and services to our portfolio, leading to further expansion of the network. Now after 30 years in the British market, Pirtek UK has 85 centres and 350 mobile workshops.”

At the turn of the millennium, Pirtek UK was nominated for the BFA’s Franchise of the Year award again and following its ongoing growth across Europe, the International Franchise of the Year. Remarkably, the company netted the double, collecting both awards.

With so many achievements to its name, it would be easy for Pirtek to rest on its laurels as UK number one. But that’s not how Pirtek operates. As the company celebrates the 30th anniversary of its entry into the UK market, it is continuously innovating and evolving.

Pirtek established Total Hose Management, a holistic data-driven system whereby franchises record, service and maintain hose systems, replacing parts at an optimal time and reducing hose failure. The success of this system is now being carried over into Total Hydraulic Management, covering entire hydraulic systems. Pirtek Tyne and Wear has established an ongoing relationship with Banks Mining, with scheduled maintenance of its heavy plant pre-empting failure, thus reducing unplanned maintenance as a percentage of all work to single figures.

Pirtek has also addressed one of the major dangers of working with high pressure systems – fluid injection injuries. The company’s Fluid Power Glove is unique in resisting jets of oil at the highest pressures found in regular hydraulic systems. This protects from certain injury and the need for surgery, and in some cases, death.

The company takes its responsibilities very seriously. As a result, it has ISO 9001 accreditation to meet customer service objectives and ISO 14001 to measure and improve its environmental impact. These are ongoing commitments and Pirtek will continue to be ahead of the curve on these issues.

The company has made use of information technology to coordinate jobs, communicate and regulate stock for many years. All jobs are recorded on iPads and stock is managed via a bespoke system. However, the passion to grow and improve doesn’t stop there as Pirtek is in the process of rolling out a new, improved IT system that will be launched this year.

“The company has undergone some truly radical changes in the past three decades and I don’t think any of us could have predicted the growth we have enjoyed,” concludes Paul Dunlop. “The one thing that has remained unchanged is a commitment to innovation and a constant improvement in customer service. Those were the foundations of the business started by Forbes Petrie and Peter Brennan in 1988 and they are the driving force behind our business today.”

Pirtek UK Ltd, 35 Acton Park Estate, The Vale, Acton, London, W3 7QE

020 8749 8444

[email protected]

www.pirtek.co.uk

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