2019 PRODRIVER 100 – Growth in a tough market

The definitive league table of the uk’s private hire and taxi industy

Despite austere economic conditions, the looming catastrophe of Brexit and an onslaught of new app-driven market entrants, Britain’s private hire and taxi industry is managing to weather the storm.

As was the case in 2018, takeover and merger activity has more or less ground to a halt. There are instances of large operators picking off smaller rivals, for example V-Cars recently acquiring a rival in Swindon, adding around 100 cars to the fleet. But there have been no significant takeovers within the ProDriver 100.

Nevertheless, Britain’s 100 largest private hire and taxi operators have continued to grow in terms of fleet size.

The leading 100 private hire operators in the UK grew their combined fleet from an adjusted base of 57,776 in 2018 to 58,897 as of the end of September 2018.

The increase, of 1,121 vehicles, represents a 1.94% increase in the overall fleet of the top 100 companies. This growth rate is considerably less than the change from 2017-18, where the overall fleet grew by 3,438 vehicles, a rise of 6.28%, and less than the 2016-17 increase of 3.57%. So there is a slowing of the national figure, though this is skewed rather by events in London.

The 2019 figure has been adjusted to include like-for-like data about a small number of companies omitted from last year’s table. It means average fleet size among the leading 100 companies has risen from 582 to 589.

While economic conditions haven’t changed dramatically in the past 12 months, but the impact of new technology-driven ride-hailing apps such as Uber is harder to pin down. There is plenty of evidence that Uber may have peaked in London, and indeed, it is struggling to convince Transport for London that it should receive a full licence.

Nevertheless, Uber continues to have an impact in London, taking business from black cans and private hire operators alike. And it is itself under threat from a number of new market entrants, all competing for the same limited pool of drivers. Taxify morphed into Bolt, and now has a London licence. French operator Kapten has also entered London, but Indian-backed rival Ola has only attempted to launch in cities away from the capital. Uber’s main US rival, Lyft, is rumoured to be poised to enter, but is yet to show its hand.

We are still not including these ride-hailing apps in the list, as it is difficult to pin down an actual number of Uber cars in operation. Uber’s fanciful claim of 40,000 is not backed up in the real world, and many Uber drivers work only part-time for the business, and may work for rivals as well as existing operators as well.

Outside London the position is different, though Uber’s disregard for local licensing makes it again hard to pin down exactly where the drivers are based. If we can devise a reliable formula, we’d make the case for including these operators.

The research also shows that the top 100 companies operate more than one in five of all the taxis and private hire vehicle in use. New DfT figures for England alone give an overall figure of around 291,800, and an adjusted “England 100” shows that the leading 100 operators operate around 19% of the total number of cars.

The entry point for the ProDriver 100 has risen significantly since 2016, but has actually fallen slightly since 2018. In 2016 a fleet of just over 200 cars was enough to gain entry to the table; in 2017 the bottom line had risen to 235 cars. In 2018 it rose to a peak of 270 cars; indeed, but has fallen back to 260 this year.

A number of companies that were previously in the top 100 have fallen out due to decreases in fleet size, and one company. Sovereign Executive of London, appears to have been wound up since 2018, though it may have restarted under a different brand, with fewer cars.

We’ve also captured data on a number of companies that had previously not volunteered their information to us. This has had the effect of pushing some of the smaller companies down and out of the table, but not sufficiently to increase the entry point.

We’re still monitoring companies down to 200 and below 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.

Addison Lee is still number one, though its fleet has declined slightly. Tristar Worldwide, acquired in 2017, took on its parent’s executive fleet. This leaves Tristar at number 8 in its own right – the combined Addison Lee group fleet would be 4,700, down from 5,325 in 2018, an indication of how tough it is in London even for a market dominator.

We continue to report the four Veezu subsidiaries as separate companies, as other than some common systems, there is little synergy between the companies. Bristol-based V Cars, number 7 in the ProDriver 100. Veezu subsidiaries Amber Cars (number 11), Dragon Taxis (12) and A2B (21) would give Veezu a combined fleet of 3,520, which would place it a clear second in the ProDriver 100.

The entry point for the top 20 has risen to 750 cars, the highest level to date. Back in 2015 when the ProDriver 100 started, a fleet of more than 500 cars would have made the top 20. This indicates the way the table is compressing at the top end. The big are getting bigger. Even so, there has been some evidence of fleet sizes falling at the very top, with the top 10 entry point falling from 950 cars to 915. Still a substantial target for any company looking to get really big.

The 2018 ProDriver 100 is the only detailed and definitive research study into the leading private hire and taxi operators in the UK. It is now in its fifth year. The ProDriver 100 ranks the top private hire, chauffeur and taxi operators in order of fleet size.

Professional Driver has refined and cross-checked the data since 2018. All companies in the list have been contacted and their data has been updated where new figures are available. We haven’t split hackney operators from private hire operators – indeed, many companies outside London operate under a dual licence system. We have this year for the first time included the largest London Black Taxi fleets. While these companies are fleets of one-man operators, they are tied to a specific operator’s “circuit “ and generally do not work for competitors.

Uber is not included; nor are other app-based technology platforms. 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. 

Ranking 2019Ranking 2018MoveCompanyHQ / CityFleet Size 2019Fleet Size 2018Fleet Size ChangeSystem
110Addison LeeLondon3,7504,300-550Own
220ComCab / DialaCab London Black Cab FleetLondon2,7002,500200N/A
330Delta TaxisBootle2,2002,100100MT Data
440City TaxisSheffield1,9501,9500iCabbi
561Alpha TaxisLiverpool1,3501,100250iCabbi
65-1Go CarzShrewsbury1,2001,2000iCabbi
87-1TristarWest Drayton9501,025-75Own
10100Boro TaxisMiddlesbrough9159150Autocab
11110Amber Cars LeedsLeeds90085050iCabbi
1211-1Dragon TaxisCardiff8508500iCabbi
1211-1Glasgow TaxisGlasgow8508500Cordic
14140Value CabsBelfast8008000Autocab
152712Street CarsManchester775607168Autocab
15216Argyle SatelliteBirkenhead77570075iCabbi
15150Network Private HireGlasgow7757750Autocab
18180Aqua CarsPortsmouth75072525Autocab
1817-1Arrow CarsLeeds7507500iCabbi
1815-3DG TaxisNottingham750950-200Autocab
2119-2A2B Radio CarsSolihull7207200iCabbi
2220-2Speedline TaxisMilton Keynes7157150Autocab
233310Skyline TaxisMilton Keynes700500200iCabbi
2422-2Panther TaxisCambridge67966019iCabbi
2522-3Parker Car ServiceIsleworth6606600Cordic
2624-2Blueline TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne6506500iCabbi
2726-1Britannia TaxisLiverpool6256250iCabbi
2827-1Green Tomato CarsLondon6006000Own
2827-1Southern Taxis / South Coast TaxisSaltdean6006000N/A
316433King KabsChester575420155Autocab
3230-2Lucky 7 Private HireStoke-On-Trent5565560Autocab
3324-9Club CarsWythenshawe550650-100iCabbi
3331-2Mainline SevensSalford5505500Autocab
3533-2The Keen GroupLondon54050040Cordic
3632-4Metro TaxisBolton5255250Autocab
374811Noda TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne5205200Autocab
3833-5Goldline Car ServicesLondon5105100Autocab
397839Lynx TaxisStockport500300200Icabbi
3933-6Central TaxisCoventry5005000Sherlock
425210Budget TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne48041070Autocab
4339-4City CabsEdinburgh4754750Other
4439-5Royal CarsOxford472475-3iCabbi
4541-4Capital CarsEdinburgh4654650Cordic
4541-4Central Radio TaxisEdinburgh4654650Cordic
4743-4Castle CarsBirmingham4604600Autocab
48557Royal CarsStockton-On-Tees450465-15iCabbi
4843-5iRide London / Swiss Cottage CarsLondon4504500Autocab
4846-2Dean TaxisGateshead45043020Autocab
4843-5247 Radio CarsBirmingham4504500iCabbi
527119Max CabsAccrington435325110iCabbi
52520TC CarsBirmingham4354350Autocab
5446-8Wheels Private HireLeeds4304300Autocab
55 N/aAK ManorBirmingham425425425Autocab
5548-7Cresta CarsManchester4254250Autocab
5548-7LA TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne425430-5Autocab
5548-7Rainbow City TaxisAberdeen4254250Auriga
5955-4Radio TaxisSouthampton4204155Autocab
5910950Star CarsBirmingham4204200Autocab
6152-9Go CarsLuton405410-5iCabbi
6255-7Abbey CarsFeltham4004000iCabbi
6255-7Metro TaxisStockport400410-10Autocab
6255-7Atlas CarsLondon4004000Cordic
66704Abba CarsWarrington38033050Cordic
6733-34TOA TaxisBirmingham375500-125Cordic
6910132Albatross CarsDerby3703700Autocab
69 N/aComCab LiverpoolLiverpool3703700N/A
7162-9Streamline TaxisBrighton3653650Sherlock
7162-9Southside Radio CarsGlasgow3653650iCabbi
7371-2A1 MinicabsRomford35032525Own
7364-9Central CarsNottingham3503500Autocab
73 N/aKelvin KabsEast Kilbride350350350Autocab
7364-9Tele TaxisDundee3503500Auriga
77857Magnum Whiteline TaxisManchester33028050Autocab
77 N/aElton BullittBury3303300N/A
7971-9001 TaxisOxford3253250iCabbi
7971-9Brighton and Hove Radio CabsBrighton3253250iCabbi
8178-2Data CarsLondon32530025iCabbi
8275-8Premier CarsLeeds320330-10Autocab
83 N/aHuddersfield TaxisHuddersfield310310310N/A
8376-8Mantax CarsManchester3103100MT Data
8564-22Nottingham CarsNottingham300370-70Autocab
8578-8ABC CarsWolverhampton3003000Autocab
8578-8City CabsLeeds3003000Other
8578-8Manchester CarsManchester3003000Autocab
8578-8Taxi FirstPlymouth3003000Autocab
9084-7Alpha CarsCrawley2902900Autocab
9176-16Ambassador CarsBirmingham28025030Autocab
9110412Heritage CarsBirmingham2802800Autocab
9190-2Phoenix CarsBlyth2802800Autocab
9486-9Station CarsPurley2752750Cordic
9486-9Bounds TaxisNorthampton 2752750iCabbi
9486-9Fairway & Kenwood TaxisLondon2752750Cordic
9492-3SRC TaxisLiverpool27526312Autocab
9889-10Advance CarsLondon2702700Cordic
9992-8Capital CabsCardiff2602600Autocab
991033Hawk Express CabsIpswich2602600Autocab
  1TOTAL 58,89757,7762,206 


The price of entry to the ProDriver 100 has settled down – and actually fell slightly from a fleet of 270 private hire vehicles to get into the main table to 260. Six of the companies in the 10 places below the main chart are companies that last year featured in the big league, but have this year experienced relegation Some have suffered a decline in fleet size, but others have simply been overtaken by new entrants.

And some of those companies that were knocking on the door of the ProDriver 100 last year now find themselves further away from the big league – a small decrease in fleet, perhaps though “right-sizing”, can result in a drop of 10 places or more in this volatile environment.

For companies that are all part of the “200-plus Club” – it wouldn’t take much – some organic growth, or perhaps a local takeover – for any of them to make the table in future.

Below 200 cars it becomes more difficult to keep tabs on operators. There are many hundreds of such operators in the UK – TfL estimates 115 operators above 101 cars in London alone.

1011042Club TaxisLeicester258265-7
10291-12Apple TaxisExeter255340-85
10392-12Alphabet CarsLondon2502500
1031040Amber Cars LondonLondon2502500
10392-12United Maxis TaxisWishaw2502500
10392-12Premier TaxisCardiff250270-20
10392-12Apple Central TaxisWeston-Super-Mare250330-80
108101-8City CabsLondonderry2402400
10912111A2B Euro CarsPeterborough2352350
11055-5635 TaxisHull230400-170
111104-8A1 Cabco LtdCambridge2252250
111104-8Road Runner MinicabsCroydon2252250
113110-4Cannon Cars Limited    Bromley2152150
114113-2The Taxi CompanyLondonderry2002000
114113-2Station TaxisSunderland2002000
114113-2Diamond CarsTelford2002000
114113-2Goodwins OlympicManchester2002000
114113-2Greyhound Cars   London2002000
114113-2Inverclyde TaxisGlasgow2002000
114113-2Kingsway CarsManchester2002000
114 NewComCab AberdeenAberdeen2002000
114 NewNeed a CabPlymouth2002000
124110-15Links TaxisGrimsby190215-25
125120-6Torbay TaxisTorquay1851850


The ProDriver 100 has now been running since 2015, allowing us for the first time to put together a five-year trend tracker of key performance indicators in the table.

The results of the 2015 survey, as a first attempt at drawing together such a major research project, understated the size of the market – we were only able to capture information about companies we knew- and the fragmentary, regional nature of the private hire and taxi sector meant some substantial regional players were simply under the radar.

But from 2016, the overall picture is pretty accurate. We continue to pick up hitherto undiscovered companies, but the effect or adding them in at the expense of the lowest-ranked firms is negligible in the big picture.

And we can see that in the three years since 2016, the overall combined fleet of vehicles operated by the top 100 companies has grown by almost 8,000. An impressive upsurge, in a market that is heavily disrupted by ride-hailing companies, and has had to operate in a difficult economy. These negative factors are perhaps starting to bite now – growth has slowed significantly compared to previous years.

The top 10 companies account for a disproportionately high proportion of the overall fleet – and the top 10 would be bigger if disparate activities that fall under the same corporate umbrella were combined. Only one of Veezu’s operations make the top 10, while Addison Lee’s Tristar subsidiary is listed separately. Only the London part of ComCab makes the top 10 too. If all the elements of these three groups were included, the top 10 figure would grow to 20,030 vehicles.

The entry points for the ProDriver 100, as well as for the Top20 and Top 10 are interesting to note. Following three years of steady growth, these numbers appear to have hit a plateau, with the fleet size required to react number 100 and number 10 both actually falling this year. 

Combined ProDriver 100 fleet39,70450,99153,19858,20858,897
ProDriver 100 year-on-year growthn/a13.04%3.57%6.28%1.94%
Average ProDriver 100 fleet size397510531582589
Combined Top 10 company fleets13,33014,77515,01017,00016,990
Average Top 10 fleet size1,3331,4771,5011,7001,699
Entry Point for Top 10650850850925915
Entry Point for Top 20500625720715750
Entry Point for Top 100150209235270260


Dividing the ProDriver 100 into bands of 10 gives an indication of where the biggest growth is taking place.

The top 10 remains stable, accounting for 28.85% of the total ProDriver 100 fleet, down slightly on 2018’s 29.21%. Among the leading companies some have added cars while others have contracted, resulting in a static picture, with growth of just 0.15%, well below the overall average of 1.94%. The 11-20 bracket is also at a similar level to 2018.

But lower down, between 21 and 40, we see mid-sized companies outperforming the market, with largely organic growth of between 8% and 9%. These are the strongest numbers in 2019.

Lower down the list, between 41 and 80, growth has slowed significantly. In 2018, we saw growth of just under 18% for the 51-60 band and 11% for the 61-70 band; this year the figures are just 2.26% and 0.91% respectively. Below that level, growth appears to slow, and between 81 and 90, as in 2018, growth slips into negative.

The final band of 10 is bound to show growth as growing companies enter the table in place of those in decline. But it is perhaps telling that the entry point for the ProDriver 100, which increased steadily from 200 to 270 in 2018, actually fell in 2019 to 260.

Band2019201819-18% CHG% OF TOTAL


It’s hard to get a handle on the chauffeur sector – many of the mid-sized companies are rather discreet, and are rather shy in coming forward with data.

The leading companies fall into two categories – companies that are specialist chauffeur firms, offering only premium and business services, or larger private hire fleets that operate a premium service too – often quite a large fleet.

Tristar Worldwide remains the leader in the sector, and the transfer of Addison Lee’s entire 500-strong executive fleet to Tristar in 2018 bolstered the specialist brand’s fleet to more than 1,000 cars.

Most of the operators are in London – the only interlopers in the table from outside the capital are divisions of large private hire fleets, including three Veezu subsidiaries in Leeds, Cardiff and, in particular, Birmingham, where it has 300 cars of Mercedes E-Class or equivalent..

London is still the main market for chauffeuring on an industrial scale – other operators such as Carey and Crawfords are outside the ProDriver 100, though they remain substantial chauffeur firms. Likewise, Parker Car Service, the third largest London private hire fleet with 625 cars, has an executive fleet of around 150 vehicles.

RankPD100 rankCompanyCityExec fleet ’19
18TristarWest Drayton950
221A2B Radio CarsBirmingham300
348Royal CarsStockton-On-Tees275
4114Carey GroupLondon200
6n/aSovereign LondonLondon180
7n/aExcel ExecutiveLondon150
728Greentomato CarsLondon150
748iRide LondonLondon150
725Parker Car ServiceLondon150
11n/aDriven WorldwideLondon137
13n/aWe Know GroupLondon120
1348Dean TaxisGateshead120
1511Amber CarsLeeds100
1518Arrow CarsLeeds100
1512Dragon TaxisCardiff100
1524Panther Taxis Ltd      Cambridge100
1515Street CarsManchester100
1552TC CarsBirmingham100


The best-performing big private hire and taxi fleets are in the North-west and South-east outside London. Both these areas, together with the small number of ProDriver 100 companies in Wales and South-west England, considerably outperformed the national average fleet size growth rate of 1.94%.

Northern Ireland and Scotland, which grew strongly between 2017 and 2018, appear to have reached a plateau, with no reported growth in either area. South-east England appears to be the most volatile region, reporting strong growth in 2016-17, a decline in 2017-18 and strong growth of 5.8% this year.

In the North-west, fleet size is increasing most strongly. The past 12 months has seen growth of 8.62% on average, driven by strong and growing operators on Merseyside and in Greater Manchester. But the North-East and Yorkshire cannot match this, while across the Midlands, the overall combined fleet of the biggest operators actually fell.

Evidence of the disruption in London is clear. In addition to the ongoing struggles with ride-hailing companies such as Uber, operators have been hit by punitive licence rises from TfL, which is causing serious damage to the market, especially among smaller operators. The big fleets are holding steady, but the overall London fleet fell by more than 1%.

Region2019201819-18 CHG% GROWTH
Wales & South-west2,4602,3601004.24%
Northern Ireland1,7251,72500.00%


Of the 100 companies included in the ProDriver 100, 86 are English, 10 are Scottish, two are based in Wales and two in Northern Ireland.

The number of ProDriver 100 companies headquartered inside the M25 continues to fall. In 2017 there were 19; last year 18 and now 17. The 31 operators in London and the south-east run more than one-third of the total car fleet, a proportion inflated by the biggest London fleets.

There are 53 major fleets of 270 cars or more in the Midlands and North of England, with major concentrations in big cities. Those 51 fleets operate just over 50% of the total fleet.

Of particular note is Merseyside, where the biggest operators are very large indeed, and mergers are making the big bigger. The leading four operators around Liverpool and the Wirral operate more cars than the 10 biggest in Greater Manchester, where ownership is more fragmented and average fleet size is smaller.

The West Midlands has seen some aggressive local growth – the top 13 firms in the region have overtaken their Mancunian counterparts, and operate a combined 6,401 cars.

RegionTotal CarsOperators ’19Operators ’18
London & South-east total20,2363230
North-east region total9,1301516
Greater Manchester4,9951110
North-west region total11,4051917
West Midlands6,4011311
East Midlands2,04555
North Midlands57512
Midlands region total9,0211918
South-west/Wales total2,46046
Northern Ireland1,72523


11Addison LeeLondon3,7504,300-550
22ComCab / Dial a Cab LondonLondon2,7002,500200
38TristarWest Drayton9501,025-75
425Parker Car ServiceIsleworth6606600
528Green Tomato CarsLondon6006000
735The Keen GroupLondon54050040
838Goldline Car ServicesLondon5105100
1048iRide LondonLondon4504500
1162Atlas CarsLondon4004000
1162Abbey CarsFeltham4004000
1373A1 MinicabsRomford35032525
1580Data CarsLondon32530025
1695Station CarsPurley2752750
1695Fairway & Kenwood TaxisLondon2752750
1899Advance CarsLondon2702700
  TOTAL 13,55513,705-150


118Aqua CarsPortsmouth75072525
222Speedline Taxi LtdMilton Keynes7157150
323Skyline TaxisMilton Keynes700500200
424Panther Taxis Ltd      Cambridge67966019
528Southern TaxisSaltdean6006000
644Royal CarsOxford472475(3)
759Radio TaxisSouthampton4204155
861Go CarsLuton405410(5)
1071Streamline TaxisBrighton3653650
1180001 TaxisOxford3253250
1180Brighton and Hove Radio CabsBrighton3253250
1391Alpha CarsCrawley2902900
14100Hawk Express CabsIpswich2602600
  TOTAL 6,6816,315366


212Dragon TaxisCardiff8508500
386Taxi FirstPlymouth3003000
4100Capital CabsCardiff2602600
  TOTAL 2,4602,360100


16Go CarzShrewsbury1,2001,2000
218DG TaxisNottingham750950-200
321A2B Radio CarsSolihull7207200
431King KabsChester575420155
532Lucky 7 Private HireStoke-On-Trent5565560
639Central TaxisCoventry5005000
747Castle CarsBirmingham4604600
848247 Radio CarsBirmingham4504500
952TC CarsBirmingham4354350
1055AK ManorBirmingham4254250
1159Star CarsBirmingham4204200
1267TOA TaxisBirmingham375500-125
1369Albatross CarsDerby3703700
1473Central CarsNottingham3503500
1586ABC CarsWolverhampton3003000
1586Nottingham CarsNottingham300370-70
1792Ambassador CarsBirmingham28025030
1792Heritage CarsBirmingham2802800
1995Bounds TaxisNorthampton 2752750
  TOTAL 9,0219,231-210


14City TaxisSheffield1,9501,9500
210Boro TaxisMiddlesbrough9159150
311Amber Cars LeedsLeeds90085050
418Arrow CarsLeeds7507500
526Blueline TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne6506500
637Noda TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne5205200
742Budget TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne48041070
848Royal CarsStockton-On-Tees450465-15
848Dean TaxisGateshead45043020
1054Wheels Private HireLeeds4304300
1155LA TaxisNewcastle-Upon-Tyne425430-5
1283Premier CarsLeeds320330-10
1384Huddersfield TaxisHuddersfield3103100
1486City CabsLeeds3003000
1592Phoenix CarsBlyth2802800
  TOTAL 9,1309,020110


13Delta TaxisBootle2,2002,100100
25Alpha TaxisLiverpool1,3501,100250
315Street CarsManchester775607168
315Argyle SatelliteBirkenhead77570075
527Britannia TaxisLiverpool6256250
633Club CarsWythenshawe550650-100
633Mainline SevensSalford5505500
836Metro TaxisBolton5255250
939Lynx TaxisStockport500300200
1052Max CabsAccrington435325110
1155Cresta CarsManchester4254250
1262Metro TaxisStockport400410-10
1366Abba CarsWarrington38033050
1469ComCab LiverpoolLiverpool370370 
1578Magnum Whiteline TaxisManchester33028050
1578Elton BullittBury330330 
1784Mantax CarsManchester3103100
1886Manchester CarsManchester3003000
1995SRC TaxisLiverpool27526312
  TOTAL 11,40510,500905


112Glasgow TaxisGlasgow8508500
215Network Private HireGlasgow7757750
343City CabsEdinburgh4754750
445Capital CarsEdinburgh4654650
545Central Radio TaxisEdinburgh4654650
655Rainbow City TaxisAberdeen4254250
871Southside Radio CarsGlasgow3653650
973Kelvin KabsEast Kilbride3503500
1073Tele TaxisDundee3503500
  TOTAL 4,9204,9200


214Value CabsBelfast8008000
  TOTAL 1,7251,7250


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 – editor@prodrivermags.com.