Interview: ACFO's new chairman speaks to BusinessCar
18 August 2014
New ACFO chairman John Pryor is looking to emphasise the organisation's importance at a time when operators are reducing their in-house fleet expertise. Paul Barker chats to the man at the top of the fleet managers' association
John Pryor recently became the Association of Car Fleet Operator's third chairman in a little over 12 months, but with 18 years' membership experience and around 25 years of involvement in managing vehicles for what is now the Arcadia Group clothing retail giant, he already has a clear idea of where he'd like to see ACFO positioning itself.
"We've been members for 18 years and for me it's vital because there's no one here I can bounce ideas off or hear other opinions," he tells BusinessCar from a meeting room at Arcadia's head office just off Oxford Street, where we're surrounded by trendy twenty-somethings showing off the latest designs for the company's various clothing brands including BHS, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Top Man and Miss Selfridge.
"Whoever is looking after the fleet needs some knowledge - it's nice to know things don't just happen to you and you can take solace in that. We haven't changed: there's still no one else in the business that knows about cars."
He continues: "We're a huge UK fashion retailer and I've got no other person to ask or go to for information. You can go to your leasing company if you have one, but to get an independent and different perspective, ACFO is very important."
He's disappointed about the reduction in the number of dedicated fleet managers in the industry, but maintains companies need someone in-house that understands what is involved in running a fleet of vehicles: "We ourselves have outsourced for years, but we've got to have someone with a semblance of [knowing] what is going on, or the lease company has got you over a barrel. Companies won't know what they don't know until the moment they know they don't know it."