National Car Parks
|Industry||Car parks and public outsourcing|
|Jo Cooper, CEO|
National Car Parks (NCP) is the United Kingdom’s largest and longest-standing private car park operator, with over 150,000 spaces across more than 500 car parks in towns, cities, airports and London Underground and National Rail stations.
NCP was founded in 1931 by Colonel Frederick Lucas. In October 1948 Ronald Hobson, together with his business partner Sir Donald Gosling, founded Central Car Parks when the pair invested £200 in a bombsite in Holborn, central London to create a car park. In 1959 Central Car Parks took over NCP from Anne Lucas, the widow of Colonel Lucas.
Hobson and Gosling expanded the company by recognising the under-developed state of many post-World War II British cities and towns. The pair began buying vacant sites in city centres, converting them into car parks. NCP then began managing sites on behalf of third parties.
By the mid-1990s NCP had become one of the most successful private businesses in Britain. In 1998, after a flotation of the business on the London Stock Exchange was cancelled at a late stage, the company was bought by US-based property and travel services provider Cendant for £801million with Hobson, Gosling, and their family trusts who owned 72.5% of the National Parking Corporation taking £580million.
The new owners re-focused the company’s operations, changing NCP from a mainly property owning company into a more service-focused organisation in the broader transport sector. In 1999 NCP launched the UK’s first private-public partnership, setting up a joint venture with Manchester City Council to establish NCP Manchester Ltd (NML).
In 2002 Cendant sold NCP to UK-based Cinven. NCP began to develop business contracts in the provision of enforcement services for local authorities, vehicle removals and debt recovery, where by 2005 it had become market leader in its field.
NCP was sold to 3i in July 2005 for £555million, with 3i saying it would continue to grow NCP as a service-oriented and public-outsourcing company in order to maximise the growth potential of both sides of the business.
In 2007 National Car Parks Limited was acquired by Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II. Today NCP hosts car parking across the UK, supporting car parking facilities at some of the most popular public sites such as London Heathrow Airport, Manchester Arena and Birmingham New Street railway station.
In 2013 NCP launched a new website and online strategy enabling customers to pre-book their parking at over 100 of their rail, city and town centre car parks. This was an industry first for the UK market.
In 2014 NCP signed partnerships with a trio of the UK’s largest online and mobile parking consolidators having opened up its off-street pre-booking technology to third-party providers and parking retailers for the first time. Deals have been struck with JustPark, ParkJockey and YourParkingSpace, enabling these popular parking brands to offer their users thousands of NCP spaces at over 100 sites.
National Car Parks has become very popular with numerous industries looking for alternative-style venues to stage events.
Since 2010 House of Holland has booked out the Brewer Street NCP to host their catwalk shows for London Fashion Week; previous attendees have included Alexa Chung, Jamie Winstone and Rachel Bilson.
As part of the Manchester International Festival, National Car Parks arranged a live relay screening of Kenneth Branagh’s new play Macbeth with hundreds of fans turning up to the open-air screening.
In the early 1990s NCP was accused of planting spies in rival group Europarks, but Britain's then biggest industrial espionage trial ended with the full acquittal of NCP chief executive Gordon Layton.
In November 2013, following the announcement that Hull was to be the UK City of Culture 2017, NCP Managing Director Duncan Bowins took to popular social media website Facebook and branded the city "a sh**ehole" - despite the fact that his car parks took over £1 million from the city each year. This "crude slur" led to Duncan Bowins winning the Award for "Most Inappropriate Use of Social Media" at the Hull Daily Mail Angus Young Awards 2013.
In December 2013 the Crawley News and The Argus reported that NCP staff had been parking in the town's limited disabled bays for convenience. An NCP spokeswoman subsequently issued a statement claiming the pair had parked there to clear leaves from the car park and that there had been nowhere else to park. However, when the Crawley News published a photo clearly showing spaces right next to the disabled bay, the firm's Head of Operations Nigel Sorenson called to apologise and admitted that the incident was "embarrassing and upsetting" for the company.
- Ray Clancy, "The story of National Car Parks", PropertyForum.com, 09/10/2008
- BBC, "Millions for car park entrepreneurs", BBC Business, 24/03/1998
- 3i, "3i closes on £555 million acquisition of NCP", 3i.com, 01/09/2005
- Peter Smith, "3i sells NCP car parks unit for £790M", Financial Times, 15/03/2007
- James Gordon-MacIntosh, "NCP partners with trio of “mobile first”,", Parking Network, 16/10/2014
- Vogue, "House of Holland", Vogue, 15/09/2012
- Evans, "Evans Cycles Urban Dual", Evans Cycles, 28/10/2012
- Beth Parnell-Hopkinson, "Art Drive! @ NCP Car Park Shoreditch", Londonist, 17/07/2012
- Dianne Bourne, "All eyes on Sir Ken as Manchester International Festival bows out", Manchester Evening News, 22/07/2013
- David Connett, "Car parks chief is cleared of spying on rival", The Independent, 13 March 1993
- James Burton, "NCP boss in crude Facebook outburst at Hull", Hull Daily Mail, 30 November 2013
- Angus Young, "The Angus Young Awards 2013", Hull Daily Mail, 30 November 2013
- Neil Vowles, "'Disgust' as NCP van parks in disabled bay", The Argus, 11 December 2013
- Dave Comeau, "NCP embarrassed after staff park in disabled bay", Crawley News, 19 December 2013
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