Beth Sampson Brunel

Car hire giant Europcar has ended its venture into the UK executive chauffeur and private hire market by selling its Brunel operations to the Travelhire Group for an undisclosed sum.

It is the second major acquisition for Travelhire, which bought Green Tomato Cars in 2019, making it a major player in the London private hire market. Brunel operations director Beth Sampson (pictured) said: “This will provide Brunel with a platform to develop its brand as part of a more sustainable and socially conscious organisation.” 

Travelhire has been one of London’s leading providers of premium car services to the corporate market for more than five decades – much the same as Brunel, Sampson added. 

Travelhire group acquired Green Tomato Cars from Transdev, another large European corporation that had tested the water in the private hire market before exiting the sector. Green Tomato Cars was established as an environmentally friendly service in 2006 and operates a large fleet of zero-emissions and low-emissions vehicles. 

Travelhire said the acquisition of Brunel fitted perfectly within the Group’s core values. “The combined Group will operate with a strong ethical focus and will be a compelling choice for the corporate market with a clear focus on industry-leading account management and customer service together with an uncompromising commitment to operate sustainably.

Green Tomato Cars managing director and founder Jonny Goldstone welcomed Brunel to the group, saying: “By adding another quality operator and long-established brand to the Travelhire Group, we are further cementing our position as the only sustainable operator in London, and the only genuine alternative when it comes to providing city – and nationwide – ground transport services to London’s corporate market.”

Europcar bought Brunel from the founding Edwards family in 2016, and announced plans to develop the brand internationally, signing up chauffeur partners across Europe to grow the operation. However there has been a major reorganisation at Europcar Mobility Services in the wake of the Covid-10 pandemic, and this is thought to have led to a reappraisal of the business.