iCabbi ProDriver 100
ProDriver 100 accounts for almost one in five UK taxis
The definitive league table of the By the numbers ProDriver 100 UK’s private hire and taxi industry
Britain’s 100 largest private hire and taxi fleets operate nearly 51,000 vehicles – almost 20% of the estimated 260,000 vehicles operated for hire and reward in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
That’s the key finding of the 2016 iCabbi ProDriver 100, the first detailed and definitive research study into the leading private hire and taxi operators in the UK.
Now in its second year, the iCabbi ProDriver 100 ranks the top private hire, chauffeur and taxi operators in order of fleet size. Professional Driver has refined and compiled the data since 2015, and the combined total of vehicles operated by the top 100 companies is 50,991, giving an average fleet size of more than 500.
We haven’t split hackney operators from private hire operators – indeed, many companies outside London operate under a dual licence system. And we haven’t included London Black Taxis, as they are really one-man operators, running under specific rules that are outside the scope of this project.
The entry point for the top 100 has risen significantly since 2015. Last year, a fleet of 150 cars was enough to gain entry to the club. Now, 200 is not enough. Mergers, acquisitions and organic growth account for some of the increase, but we’ve also captured data on some of the more shy companies that didn’t make the 2015 table. This has had the effect of pushing some of the smaller companies down and out of the table.
We’re still monitoring companies down to 150 vehicles, though beyond this point it becomes harder to identify the operators. A very large number of local operators have fleets of around 100 cars, but reaching a fleet size of 150 is a little harder to achieve, and often involves local mergers or takeovers.
The top 10 highlights just how active the market has been in the past 12 months. Addison Lee is still number one, with a relatively static fleet. But that does not tell the story – Tristar Worldwide has been acquired by Addison Lee and has taken on its parent’s executive fleet – pushing it into the top 10.
Veezu hasn’t yet delivered the promised acquisitions, but consolidation of operations has left two of its companies in the top 10. Combined, Veezu would be number 2 behind Addison Lee and ahead of Merseyside giant Delta Taxis.
It now requires a fleet of 850 cars to get into the Top 10 – last year 650 did the job. This year 650 only just makes the top 20. The big operators are getting bigger, and it’s unlikely to stop.
Alpha Taxis of Liverpool bought local rival Acorn Cars, doubling its size. Further down, Arrow Cars has added 175 cars through the purchase of A2B of Nottingham. Parker Car Service has added 96 cars through the purchase of LHR Express – though its position has actually fallen from 15th to 20th as a result, such is the growth of the big players.
In 2015 a fleet with more than 500 cars would have made the top 20. In 2016, that’s the entry point for the top 30. The pattern is repeated down the table. The top 50 now requires 400 cars not 300. Two hundred was good enough for 65th place in 2015 – now it won’t get in to the 100 at all.
You can see how competitive the market is in major cities such as Manchester and Newcastle – each city has several major fleets all competing for local business without a local dominator. Liverpool is shaping up for a more concentrated fight between two giant players, and other cities – Sheffield or Bristol, for example, have one operator that dwarfs its local rivals.
We believe the merger and acquisition trend will continue, though, and the big will get bigger. External, professional players such as Transdev, which owns Greentomato Cars, and Europcar, which has just bought Brunel, will continue to build their acquisitions.
The overall effect will be to force up the entry point of the iCabbi ProDriver 100, and bolster average fleet size from its current level of just above 500 cars. And we are well on the way to seeing a top 10 of 1,000-plus fleets.
|Rank Move||HQ |
|Fleet size 2016||Fleet size 2015||Change||Web Site|
|2||2||0||Delta Taxis||Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens||2200||2000||+200||www.deltataxis.net|
|3||3||0||City Taxis||Sheffield||1600||1400||+200||www.citytaxis.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|4||16||+12||Alpha Taxis||Liverpool||1000||500||+500||www.alpha-taxi.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|4||5||+1||V-Cars||Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Chippenham||1000||850||+150||www.v-cars.com|
|7||20||+13||Dragon Taxis||Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend||925||500||+425||www.dragontaxis.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|9||5||-4||Amber Cars||Leeds||850||850||0||www.taxileeds.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|11||9||-2||Blueline Taxis||Newcastle-upon-Tyne||780||680||+100||www.bluelinetaxis.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|13||16||+3||Arrow Cars||Leeds||750||750||0||www.arrowprivatehire.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|13||8||-5||Go Carz||Shrewsbury, Telford, Stafford, Wolverhampton||750||700||+50||www.gocarz.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|13||16||+3||Network Private Hire||Glasgow||750||500||+250||www.networkprivatehire.co.uk|
|18||-||-||Fonacab||Belfast||650||-||www.fonacab.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|20||13||-7||A2B Radio Cars||Birmingham||625||550||+75||www.a2bradiocars.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|20||15||-5||Parker Car Service||London||625||529||+96||www.parkercarservice.co.uk|
|20||11||-9||The Keen Group||London||625||625||0||www.thekeengroup.co.uk|
|24||-||-||Speedline Taxis||Milton Keynes||590||-||speedlinetaxi.com|
|25||24||-1||Britannia Taxis||Liverpool||550||450||+100||www.britanniataxis.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|27||61||+34||Apple Central Taxis||Weston Super Mare||510||220||+290||www.applecentraltaxis.co.uk|
|29||16||-13||Metro Cars of Bolton||Bolton||500||500||0||www.metrotaxisbolton.co.uk|
|29||-||-||Panther Taxis||Cambridge||500||-||www.panthertaxis.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|29||-||-||Roadrunners||Horley, Gatwick, Reigate||500||-||www.roadrunnersgatwick.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|29||16||-13||Skyline Taxis||Milton Keynes||500||500||0||www.skylinetaxis.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|36||-||-||Lucky 7 Private Hire||Stoke||470||-||www.luckyseventaxis.co.uk|
|36||-||-||Skyex (Triple A Express)||London||470||-||skyex.co.uk|
|38||-||-||247 Radio Cars||Birmingham||450||-||247radiocarz.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|41||-||-||Wheels Private Hire||Leeds||430||-|
|46||29||-17||Abbey Car Hire||London||400||400||0||www.abbeycarsuk.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|46||35||-11||Edinburgh City Private Hire||Edinburgh||400||380||+20||www.ecph.cab||Powered by iCabbi|
|56||40||-16||Go Luton||Luton||360||300||+60||www.goluton.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|58||51||-7||Brunel Total Ground Transportation Services||London||358||358||0||www.brunel.com|
|59||-||-||Club Cars||Manchester||350||500||-150||www.clubcarsmanchester.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|59||65||+6||Royal Cars Oxford||Oxford||350||200||+150||www.royal-cars.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|66||-||-||Argyle Taxis||Liverpool||300||-||www.argyletaxis.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|66||40||-26||Brighton and Hove Radio Cars||Brighton||300||300||0||www.brightontaxis.com|
|66||40||-26||The A1 Group||Essex||300||300||0||www.a1groupukltd.co.uk|
|66||40||-26||Wirral Satellite Cars||Birkenhead||300||300||0||www.wirralsatellitecars.co.uk|
|75||-||-||Max Cabs||Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley||285||-||www.maxcabs.com|
|77||54||-23||Fairway and Kenwood||London||270||250||+20||www.fairwaykenwood.co.uk|
|79||-||Southside Radio Cars||Glasgow||260||-||www.southsideradiocars.co.uk||Powered by iCabbi|
|82||-||United Maxis Taxis||Wishaw||251||-|
|83||-||-||Magnum Whiteline Taxis||Manchester||250||-||www.magnumwhitelinetaxis.co.uk|
|93||-||-||Heritage Cars Group||Birmingham||225||-||heritagecarsgroup.com|
|94||93||-1||A2B Euro Cars||Peterborough||220||150||+70||www.a2beurocars.co.uk|
|94||40||-54||Data Cars||London||220||300||-80||www.datacars.com||Powered by iCabbi|
|94||-||-||Star Cars and Coaches||Birmingham||220||-||starcarsbirmingham.com|
|99||65||-34||Hawk Express Cabs||Ipswich||210||200||+10||www.hawkexpresscabs.co.uk|
|100||63||-37||Amber Car Services||London||209||209||0||www.ambercars.com|
ProDriver 100 posts growth of 13% on 2015 total
The ProDriver 100 is bigger and better than the 2015 table. We have spent a considerable amount of time and effort capturing companies that did not make the 2015 table, and making sure that our data is as up to date as possible.
The companies in the 2015 table accounted for just under 40,000 cars, while those in the 2016 chart operate close to 51,000. But given the influx of companies that were not included in 2015, this is not an accurate reflection of growth.
However, we have continued to track all the companies in the 2015 chart, including those whose fleets are now too small to make the ProDriver 100. A number of companies have been taken over or merged into other operations, while a small number have downsized or exited the market.
A total of 97 companies from the 2015 chart still trade. Last year these firms operated a combined fleet of 38,693 cars. In 2016, those companies had increased their operations to 43,738 – an increase of 13.04% on the 2015 figure.
This represents strong growth in the sector – and shows that the effect of Uber has actually been positive as far as the large fleets are concerned. Some of the growth is down to consolidation and takeover activity, but the overall table shows that most companies have grown. One or two falls are down to demergers – but few appear to have gone into a downward spiral.
The 200 Club
|Birmingham Private Hire||Birmingham||200|
|Miller City Cars||Preston||200|
|The Taxi Company||Belfast||200|
A fleet of 200 private hire vehicles or taxis is no longer enough to get into the iCabbi ProDriver 100. This clutch of companies are all knocking on the door of the league, however, having reached the magic double century.
Some of these firms are leading players in their city or town, and along with the gaggle of firms below 200, it wouldn’t take much for any of them to make the table in future, either through takeovers or mergers – or just through a bit of organic growth.
Where is Uber?
Uber is not listed in the table, and for a number of reasons. Although Uber does register as a licensed private hire operator in the cities where it offers a service, it could hardly be defined as a conventional operator.
It may hold licences and hire drivers, but the terms of employment are very different to most other firms.
Uber claims it has 15,000 drivers in London – and that number may have signed up for the app. But many are independent chauffeurs; others have come and gone; others do the odd job. Some do work full time. But nobody has to drive exclusively for Uber, and without a definitive form of exclusive contract, we have to consider them an app provider or an aggregator of self-employed drivers rather than an actual operator.
The situation is slightly different in some other cities – for example in Manchester or Liverpool, where Uber cars tend to carry some form of branding. It is possible that Uber will have to become more conventional in how it operates, whereupon we could reconsider its inclusion.
Executive chauffeuring leaders
The takeover of Tristar Worldwide by Addison Lee has had a major impact on the executive chauffeuring sector. Addison Lee is transferring its entire – and substantial – executive fleet to Tristar, bolstering the specialist brand’s fleet to 1,000 cars.
This makes Tristar substantially bigger than all its rivals in the lucrative Lonodn chauffeur and events market. The next biggest companies with “pure” executive chauffeur fleets come in at around 350 cars. Sovereign Executive is currently second – the company was rebranded from Cabot Global in 2015.
Others including Brunel and Carey Worldwide also feature in the ProDriver 100, though both operators run economy fleets of Toyota Prius cars and other vehicles, including Ford Galaxys, which would not be considered “executive”. Brunel is believed to have around 180 executive cars, and Carey’s fleet, excluding its Embarque-brand Prius models, is around the same level.
Brunel is likely to be a major mover in the near future, following its takeover by Europcar, which plans to expand the brand and offer chauffeur services through its car hire desks.
Parker Car Service, the third largest London fleet at number 15 in the table, also has an executive fleet of around 150 vehicles.
Outside London, Veezu is a surprisingly large provider of executive services through its three main hubs in Leeds, Cardiff and, in particular, Birmingham, where it has 300 cars of Mercedes E-Class or equivalent. The other large all-executive fleet outside London is the controversial north-west operator PCS, which runs an all-Mercedes fleet of 150 cars, largely on airport transfers for Emirates from regional airports.
Top 10 executive chauffeur operators
|Rank||Operator||City||Exec fleet||Total fleet|
|3||20||A2B Radio Cars||Birmingham||300||625|
|6||20||Parker Car Service||London||150||625|
Regional breakdown – big players in London, bigger players in the north
|Region||Total cars||Operators 2016||Operators 2015|
|SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND TOTAL||17,585||32||40|
|NORTH-WEST ENGLAND TOTAL||9,205||18||20|
|NORTH-EAST ENGLAND TOTAL||8,220||15||14|
|SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND & WALES TOTAL||3,195||6||10|
Of the 101 companies surveyed, 85 are English, nine are Scottish, three are based in Wales and three in Northern Ireland.
The greatest concentration is in London – specifically inside the M25, where 18 of the iCabbi ProDriver 100 companies are headquartered. However, this is down on2015’s 27 – partly because we have uncovered more growing regional operators. Research has revealed more large Midlands operators than we knew last time, for example.
There may be fewer London giants this time – but they operate more cars between them – a sign of consolidation in the Capital. London fleets in the ProDriver 100 operate a total of 12,124 cars – almost 1,000 more than the 11,242 recorded in 2015. The 2016 figure is roughly 18% of the total number of private hire cars currently registered in London, believed to be around 65,000 at present.
|4||20||Parker Car Service||London||625|
|4||20||The Keen Group||London||625|
|8||36||Triple A Express||London||470|
|9||46||Abbey Car Hire||London||400|
|14||77||Fairway & Kenwood||London||270|
|17||100||Amber Car Services||London||209|
|22||119||Meadway Private Hire||London||180|
|30||137||Swift Car Services||London||150|
The top 32 London private hire firms control close to 15,000 cars. This makes London the biggest region in terms of large fleet control, but this doesn’t tell the whole story.
Even factoring in the influence of Uber, with its rather fanciful claims of 20,000 drivers, all of them self-employed one-man operators, it is estimated that there are in excess of 60,000 private hire vehicles in the Capital. This suggests that at least three-quarters of the cars are operated either by self-employed drivers, one-man chauffeur firms, or, mainly, small local minicab firms with fewer than 150 cars.
It would be reasonable to assume that around half the minicabs in London fall into that category – which would suggest there may be up to 500 small minicab firms in the Capital’s suburbs – so the scope for consolidation remains considerable in the capital.
|2||24||Speedline Taxis||Milton Keynes||590|
|3||29||Skyline Taxis||Milton Keynes||500|
|10||66||Brighton & Hove Radio Cars||Brighton||300|
|10||66||The A1 Group||Essex||300|
|14||99||Hawk Express Cabs||Ipswich||210|
Wales and South-west England
|3||27||Apple Central Taxis||Weston Super Mare||510|
Consolidation is taking shape in the Western parts of the nation. V-Cars has reached a fleet size of 1,000 by covering a number of towns – Bristol, Bath, Chippenham and Swindon – its strategy is similar to that of Go Carz in the Midlands, focusing on the M4 corridor.
The South-west is a large area, so motorway corridors make a sensible growth strategy. Apple Central Taxis has risen rapidly this year as its two operations in Weston Super Mare and Exeter have now been combined.
Meanwhile Veezu has now brought all its South Wales operations under a single banner – two separately-branded Dragon Taxis operations in Cardiff and Newport, together with Bridgend Radio Cars, are now all a single business nudging 1,000 cars.
|3||20||A2B Radio Cars||Birmingham||625|
|5||36||Lucky 7 Private Hire||Stoke||470|
|6||38||247 Radio Cars||Birmingham||450|
|13||93||Heritage Cars Group||Birmingham||225|
|14||94||A2B Euro cars||Peterborough||220|
|14||94||Star Cars and Coaches||Birmingham||220|
|17||102||Birmingham Private Hire||Birmingham||200|
|19||137||Swift Fox Cars||Leicester||150|
It’s perhaps surprising that the two biggest firms in the midlands are not from Birmingham. Go Carz has risen to prominence by bringing together a number of local operators in four towns – Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Stafford and Telford. This gives it a large area of operation and plenty of scope to grow without venturing into the region’s biggest city.
Birmingham has a similar dynamic to Manchester, with a number of large operators without a single dominator. Veezu is there through A2B Cars, and this could drive consolidation in the city.
With a number of smaller cities and large towns, the East Midlands is still the domain of the smaller operator. Nottingham appears to be the most competitive market, with a genuinely large and progressive player in DG Cars, with a high proportion of hybrids and some electric cars on strength.
|6||29||Metro Cars of Bolton||Bolton||500|
|11||66||Wirral Satellite Cars||Birkenhead||300|
|18||102||Miller City Cars||Preston||200|
|25||137||Professional Chauffeur Services||Runcorn||150|
There is no market dominator in Manchester, and that is perhaps why it is starting to be targeted by London firms. Addison Lee has announced plans to open a Manchester subsidiary, while Uber has made major inroads, operating branded cars in the city.
While Manchester remains fragmented, the situation is much clearer at the other end of the East Lancs road, where Alpha Taxis’ acquisition of local rival Acorn Cars has doubled its size to 1,000 cars. Even so, it’s a relative minnow compared to Delta Taxis, which has added a further 200 cars through organic growth, taking its fleet to 2,200.
Liverpool council has played hard-ball with Uber, making it easier for the local firms to grow. And with looser restrictions on cross-border operations, Delta has expended into the city centre, as well as outlying towns such as St Helens.
Meanwhile further consolidation has seen the Davy Liver brand disappear into sister company Wirral Satellite Cars, concentrating operations into a single base on the south side of the Mersey.
|7||41||Wheels Private Hire||Leeds||430|
|20||125||Blue Line Taxis||Barnsley||170|
It’s perhaps no surprise that no dominant operator has emerged in a region stretching from Sheffield to the Scottish border. Big local players are the name of the game, with organic growth a priority.
There are five north-east or Yorkshire-based companies within the ProDriver 100’s top 20, including some real industry powerhouses – Veezu’s Amber Cars, Boro Taxis, Blueline, and a genuine local dominator, City Cabs of Sheffield. But the market is again ripe for consolidation, especially as Uber has made gains in Leeds and Newcastle.
|2||13||Network Private Hire||Glasgow||750|
|3||29||Inverclyde Taxis Limited||Greenock||500|
|5||46||Edinburgh City Private Hire||Edinburgh||400|
|8||79||Southside Radio Cars||Glasgow||260|
|9||82||United Maxis Taxis||Wishaw||251|
|4||102||The Taxi Company||Belfast||200|
Professional Driver has endeavoured to ensure that the data in this survey is correct and accurate, and all steps have been taken to achieve this. However, it is possible that some fleet sizes may have changed, or some companies may have been omitted due to a lack of available information. If you believe your company should be included in the ProDriver 100, please contact us via email - firstname.lastname@example.org