The UK hire market has a histroy of being pretty fragmented, with the larger players only taking a small share of the market relative to other industries. I guess the reasons being that local opperators have the ability to compete, given the requirement for strong customer relationships.
It is not simply the equipment itself that is important, but logistics, flexibility and being on hand to help, which means relationships are crucially important. The challenge for the larger companies is to maintain this local knowledge whilst benefitting from their economies of scale. Having large central depots for plant may make great cost savings, but the hire desk may benefit from seeing the equipment they are sending to their customer. Some customers want to talk to one or two people at a hire firm who can sort out any problems, rather going through accounts, breakdowns. transport departments and speaking to someone new every time.
The market for those hiring in equipment is also very diverse, from huge national construction firms to one man operations. It may suit larger construction companies to deal with a couple of larger hire firms, where they can utilise their buying power and only need to maintian a few supplier relationships. On the other hand, there are not quite the same considerations for the company building 2 homes at a time, where dealing with someone you know who can get everything sorted quickly is crucial.
As we grow the business this is something we are very aware of, our vision is to maintain small depots with managers who have alot of autonomy, know their customers, buy the equpiment they want to hire out and move quikly to sort out any issues!