Posted on Wednesday 23 October 2019 by Ulster Business

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APCOA Parking Group, Europe’s leading parking operator with almost 50 years of industry expertise, has recently increased its presence in the Irish market by undertaking a major acquisition in Northern Ireland. We hear about the firm’s plans for growth here

Belfast City is changing and its transportation network and parking strategy have a key role to play in supporting its growth.

Innovative use of technology to make parking ‘smarter’ and promoting better use of city centre space will contribute to creating the right environment for business investment and the lifestyle of residents, commuters and visitors.

The need for effective parking planning reaches beyond Belfast city though as parking issues are common in towns across the country. Parking planning is not just about the provision and management of spaces – the majority of parking acts require some sort of enforcement system to ensure effectiveness.

As an experienced parking operator, APCOA can work with the public and private sectors to contribute knowledge and expertise to the planning and implementation of effective parking strategies. An on-going investment in developing parking technology also offers new ways of improving services to clients and the public.

In August, APCOA acquired the business of Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems (NCPS) in Ireland, including subsidiaries Parking Enforcement Solutions (PEA) and Mobile Research Solutions.

The combined operation resulting from the acquisition sees APCOA’s business in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland double in size to cover more than 1,750 site locations and it will enable them to service all counties in both countries.

APCOA’s existing business in Northern Ireland operated a number of sites including two city centre multi storey car parks in Belfast city centre. The NCPS subsidiary PEA brings a further c.80 locations, primarily in the greater Belfast area with key sites such as the Titanic Quarter, numerous NHS hospitals and trusts and the Odyssey. APCOA sees this investment as strengthening their position in Northern Ireland and providing a platform for increased growth.

Combining the existing APCOA expertise and customer base across both countries, this acquisition now makes APCOA a leading mobile parking operator in cashless parking providing convenient, cashless and cost-effective payment options to nearly 200,000 parking customers.

Both APCOA and NCPS see this as a real opportunity to broaden the strength of services to clients and to improve capabilities by bringing together the best knowledge, systems and operational practice.

Kim Challis, regional managing director for APCOA UK & Ireland, said: “The businesses complement each other well across different geographies and business sectors and both have strong management and operational teams.  

“There are opportunities to share innovation and technology solutions from both companies across the whole business, and also to benefit from the on-going investment and business experience that comes from APCOA UK & Ireland being part of a larger European group. We’re really excited about the opportunities ahead.”

Neil Cunningham, managing director of APCOA in Ireland, explains why he sees the acquisition as a positive move for the business in Northern Ireland.

“This investment strengthens APCOA’s ability to offer countrywide services and gives us a stronger base for future growth. Colleagues in both companies have a keen focus on customer service and we’ve brought together two experienced management teams.

“I’m also delighted that Jason Ballard, founder and chief executive of NCPS and PEA, will continue to work with us for the next six months to support the smooth integration of the business. Combine those factors with the wide range of services and innovative technology we can offer, the possibilities for further growth in Northern Ireland look very strong indeed.”  

Philippe Op de Beeck, chief executive of APCOA Parking Group, says the company “profited from healthy organic growth last year”.

“In addition, we are currently strengthening our focus on strategic acquisitions.

“The group recently acquired Onepark A/S in Denmark, after having bought another smaller Swiss company early last year. With every acquisition, we have pursued a clear strategy: not to become a property owner. Thanks to its consistent ‘asset light’ business model, APCOA has established itself as a reliable partner, maximising the value of both private and public property owners’ assets.

“At the same time, APCOA offers consumers a range of products and services that are increasingly digital and that span the entire market.” These acquisitions have enabled APCOA to expand its presence in each market and position itself for further profitable growth.

APCOA Parking Group has almost 50 years of industry expertise. With its 5,000 employees, the company manages approximately 1.5 million individual parking spaces at more than 10,000 locations in 13 European countries. These include parking spaces at 1,800 city and shopping centre locations, 400 hotels, 150 hospitals and 58 European airports.

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