Rivervale Leasing has a long and illustrious history within Sussex and is obviously set for greater things looking at the plans for their brand new building that is rising rapidly from the soil of Portslade in Brighton.
Located next to many major main dealers such as BMW, Mercedes and Ford, they offer a superb service that is being selected by an ever growing band of wise motorists who wish to get into the car of their dreams without paying the earth. I caught up with the Head of Operations Vince Pemberton, whose passion for the business shines through and who has been with the company since 2009 when he merged his company Eagle Oak Vehicle Contracts with Rivervale.
The site is owned by Endeavour Holdings, the owners of the famous Endeavour Motor Group, a Ford dealer that once employed over 1,000 people in Sussex. Endeavour is owned by Tommy Sopwith, the son of Sir Thomas Sopwith, CBE who invented the iconic Sopwith Camel aircraft, a WW1 single-seat biplane introduced on the Western Front in 1917 and attributed with changing the course of the war.
Rivervale started life as a Mercedes dealer at the site next door, currently the home of Mercedes-Benz Brighton, and went on to dominate the motor dealer scene for many years. The growth of Rivervale Leasing has been astounding as they refine their offering to customers and consumers who wish to lease their vehicle. Many younger customers view their car acquisition as they do their smart phone acquisition. Lease it, use it and then give it back when the contract is over and get a new one. This has led to an explosion in business as the company has expertly tapped into this market and offer a range of cost effective and simple leasing solutions for any car or van imaginable. The leap from a traditional main dealer selling just one marque of car to a leading leasing company that can provide any make of car or van anywhere in the country, is obviously a shrewd move and one that is paying dividends.
Having outgrown their existing location, and with Endeavour owning the site next door, they are in the advanced stages of construction of a magnificent new, purpose built building that will house Rivervale Leasing. But that’s not enough for Vince and the team. They are determined to ensure it is totally unique and will be adding a service centre therefore allowing them to not only supply the customers vehicle but to conduct all the manufacturers servicing requirements. Along with a used vehicle division that will allow the customer to trade in their current car at the same time they acquire their shiny new one. But, of course, that is still not enough. Rivervale will be the first such company of its kind in the country to have a high street branded coffee shop on-site along with high speed broadband. This means that a customer can sell their old car and obtain a cracking deal on the new car and when the time comes for the routine servicing, they can return to Rivervale for that service, and with a high speed turnaround, they will be able to wait for the car in comfort with a Skinny Latte and a biscotti whilst working. There is not much left to chance here and an offering that is totally unique.
The team is one of the most important facets of any business and they score here too. Many of the top team have been with the company for over 10 years and share Vince’s passion for the business. When l visited, the smart company shirts, busy vibe and general hubbub all around the office lays testament to the happy team environment. There are also a lot of family members involved in the business which is always a good thing. They all believe in the motivational strap line “Do it the right way, do it the Rivervale way” and this is a slogan that is followed through from start to finish by the entire team.
Tommy Sopwith, although in his eighties, is still involved in the holding company alongside Managing Director Neil Chapman and fully supportive of the company’s plans and Vince speak very highly of this much loved mentor as one of the most inspirational figures he has ever encountered. Allied to Vince’s passion and drive, Rivervale is set for an exciting future. The new building will open in September and Vince assures me that there will be reference to Endeavour somewhere in the building. Vince even sought out the famous Endeavour Racing Yacht, built by Sir Thomas in 1934 to challenge for the America’s Cup. When he found it was for sale at $17 million, he thought better of it.
As the world continues to regard high value purchases as a leased item rather than a outright purchase, Rivervale is bang on trend and the key will be keen pricing and exemplary service. And with such a high level of service with everything under one new roof, it would be a fool that bet against their total domination of the sector.
Unit 8, Victoria Road Industrial Estate
Portslade, Brighton, BN41 1XQ
T: 01273 433480