There can’t be many builders’ merchant businesses which also operate a sizeable department store network and also manage a luxury spa resort, yet that is the case with Leekes Building Centre. PBM reports on the company’s investment in a new vehicle fleet.
High-profile independent Leekes has made another round of investments in fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz vans, commissioning 26 Sprinters for operation from its building centres and department stores across South Wales and extending into Wiltshire and the West Midlands.
An established operator of commercial vehicles bearing the three-pointed star, Leekes has a head office on the Mwyndy Business Park in Pontyclun, and offers a huge range of homewares and home improvement products from its six retail outlets. Its roots in the merchanting sector stretch back more than 100 years and the business has four branches which trade under the Leekes Building Centre name. Activities in the wider building sector also include the supply and fit of double glazing, conservatories, bathrooms and solar PV panels.
Its smart black vans arrived via dealer Euro Commercials. All are Sprinter 313 CDI models with state-of-the art 129 hp common rail turbodiesel engines. To further boost economy, Leekes has specified BlueEFFICIENCY packages which combine a raft of measures designed to reduce fuel use and exhaust emissions.
These include ECO-Start, an innovative system which boosts economy by automatically cutting the engine whenever a vehicle is stationary — for example, in heavy traffic — then automatically re-starting when the driver is ready to move off and depresses the clutch. Other features include low rolling resistance tyres and efficiency improvements to items like the power steering system, fuel pump and battery management.
Most of the new vehicles are Long-bodied panel vans with external glass-carrying frails and internal racking, which are being used by its double-glazing fitters. The vehicle line-up also includes an Extra-long van which is based at its store in Melksham and used primarily to deliver furniture, much of it to London, and six Long chassis cabs with dropside bodies — the latest three of which were fitted on line at the Mercedes-Benz factory and will be used by Leekes’ conservatory base installation teams.
Euro Commercials has additionally supplied a nine-seat Mercedes-Benz Vito Traveliner minibus which is now in service at Leekes’ sister company, The Vale Resort on Hensol Park, Vale of Glamorgan.
The diverse business — which also has concessions in other stores and garden centres — runs 70 vans, the vast majority of them Sprinters. Mercedes-Benz Atego rigids also account for the greater part of its truck fleet and are used both for trunking to stores and deliveries to customers.
“Mercedes-Benz is a premium brand with an image of quality that can only enhance our own reputation,” said Director and Company Secretary Stuart Leeke. “We bought our first Sprinters in 1998, since when they have always proved outstandingly reliable, cost-effective to operate and popular with our drivers. Safety is of paramount importance to our company, so the fact that Mercedes-Benz leads the field in this respect is also key to its appeal.”
The new vans replace older vehicles that have been stood down, including several by another manufacturer. “Our experience of disposing of these vehicles confirmed that the Sprinter continues to command high residual values compared to other types of van,” continued Stuart.
Leekes’ vans are maintained within the Mercedes-Benz Dealer network by factory-trained technicians fitting only GenuineParts. “The after sales support is exceptional,” Stuart added. “Over the last 16 years we have developed a very good working relationship with Euro Commercials — on the rare occasion an issue does crop up we know who to call, and that we’re assured of a fast, efficient response.”