Monday, May 9, 2011

News: Lombard celebrate 150 years in Rotherham


Lombard, one of the UK's leading asset finance providers, is celebrating their 150 years in business since starting out as the North Central Wagon and Finance Company in Rotherham in 1861.

A group of astute investors saw the business possibilities in leasing wagons to local railway companies, collieries and quarries. By financing colliery owners, the company enabled them to keep coal stocks moving and made a vital contribution to Britain's industrial development.

With offices on Howard Street, the company was almost certainly the first in Britain to offer hire purchase and the business grew rapidly when it was incorporated with limited liability. This enabled it to secure further investment and the offices moved to Market Square. By 1900 the company had 25,000 wagons for hire.

Alexander Baldock, managing director of Lombard said: "As with so many success stories Lombard was founded on humble beginnings. From its inception, North Central Wagon Company made a significant impact on a local industry that depended on the efficient movement of coal and it wasn't long before the business grew, identifying opportunities to run its own wagon building and repair shops."

North Central continued to grow and profit under the leadership of their entrepreneurial chairman, Connop Guthrie who secured financial backing from the Prudential Assurance Company to buy the brand. They took a major step forward in 1928 by turning their attention to the financing of motor vehicles on hire purchase terms.

After transforming the business through acquisition and organic growth, Guthrie was summoned by the government to help the war effort and the company moved to new headquarters on Moorgate in 1939.

After the Second World War and nationalisation of the railways, the company moved more into financing cars and consumer durables and underwent a number of acquisitions, mergers and name changes as banks became keen to acquire hire purchase companies.

The group continued to diversify and make profits and moved into home loans and mortgages and IT and technology leasing. Lombard's biggest deal came in 1998 when they won a bid to finance the purchase of 78 trains for Virgin Rail at a cost of £395m.

In 2007, the RBS group moved their Lombard business across Rotherham from Moorgate to the state-of-the-art Cyan building at Manvers, relocating around 600 staff.

Alexander added: "Diversity and innovation are at the heart of our business's longevity. Lombard has always responded to change and this has been evident throughout our history.

"However, in reflecting on our past and considering the future, it is important not to neglect the present, and in particular the celebration of our achievement in reaching the landmark of our 150th anniversary."

The Lombard story is set to come full circle in Rotherham as the group has recently applied to replace the RBS sign on the Manvers building with the Lombard logo, complete with a black diamond representing a lump of coal and their humble beginnings.

Lombard website



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