Leasing Professionals

Freddie Aldous, ‘a pioneer and innovator in rental and leasing’, dies

Aldous freddie

Freddie Aldous, the honorary life president of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, has died.

Aldous was a pioneer and innovator in the vehicle rental and leasing industry and played a pivotal role in the development and operation of both the BVRLA and the European Car and Truck Rental Association (ECATRA).

As BVRLA chairman from 1971-1973 (the only person ever to be elected for a second term) and president (1992-2004), he helped it expand its size and influence and was appointed honorary life president in 2004, in recognition of his services to the industry.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “Freddie was respected and loved across the industry, and will be sorely missed. He played a key role in both the growth of the UK vehicle rental industry and the trade body that represents it.

“Across five decades, his hard work, advice and guidance helped the association meet countless challenges and played a key role in building the modern, thriving trade body we have today.”

The BVRLA has produced an obituary highlighting the impact Aldous had on the industry during his long career.

His career in the industry started when he was working for finance house UDT and was asked to take on the management of Swan Self Drive.

Soon afterwards, he was approached by consultants acting for the National Bus Company, which was looking to develop additional income from its several hundred coach and bus stations.

After due process, Swan National was formed in 1973, initially to provide short-term rental, but eventually expanding into contract hire and a motor trade group, with a turnover of more than £550 million.

Among his innovations was a centralized reservation and billing service which is now seen as standard in the industry.

By 1989, Aldous had become chairman of Swan National, by then a significant player in the sector.

In 1991, a partnership was formed with Dollar Rent a Car from the United States and soon after the joint organisation had purchased car rental firms in France and Italy, started a company in Spain and had an agreement with a company in the Netherlands, eventually expanding to 21 countries.

In 1994, Aldous and his colleagues organised a management buyout of the company from TSB and the following year the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange.

In 1998, Republic Industries, another American company, bought Eurodollar and Aldous announced his retirement, although still remaining active within the industry.

Throughout his career, Aldous found time to work for the good of the industry through commitments to the BVRLA and ECATRA.

He thought highly of the chief executives and the staff who served with him in the association and especially of John Lewis (2000-2013) and more recently of Keaney, the present chief executive.

In one of his last interviews, Aldous said: “I would particularly stress the enormous advances in the BVRLA’s strong relationship with the governments of the day which John Lewis achieved during his period of office.

“In addition, Gerry Keaney, the current incumbent, has taken the association’s profile both within the industry and government, to extraordinarily high levels. He, in a relatively short time, has achieved much by introducing many new innovations, ensuring the BVRLA’s importance to the industry has increased and will continue to do so in the future.”

Aldous served as president of ECATRA for 17 years, bringing many significant changes, including relocating its headquarters from Germany to Brussels to be closer to the seat of European politics.

Keaney added: “Freddie was passionate about the sector throughout his career. He was a visionary in terms of his passionate enthusiasm for business and motivating staff.

“He was also a visionary in representing our sector more widely beyond his company. He was one of the founding fathers, if not the founding father, of the BVRLA.”