A business at the forefront of transport developments
From the creation of our Group in 1944 by the entrepreneur Gérard Fraikin and establishing Fraikin in the UK in 1978, discover our journey that has kept us at the forefront of developments in transport and mobility to the present day!
Discover the key stages in our development
1940s to 50s: the beginnings of Fraikin
Wounded in the war, the young Gérard Fraikin was demobilised. While convalescing and during lunch with his uncle, they saw a gas-powered lorry pass by; the uncle asked him: “Why don’t you go into transport?”
The idea took root. In September 1944, Gérard Fraikin created SARL des Transports Fraikin. It rented vehicles with drivers to companies and department stores in the Paris region, France.
Soon, Fraikin had three major customers: SNCF, the fruit juice producer, Fruidam, and the Parisian department store, Le Bon Marché.
1950s: first crisis, first developments
In 1950, 20 of the Group’s 25 vehicles were operated for Le Bon Marché. But the department store was in difficulty, and Gérard Fraikin had to find new outlets for his lorries. Long-term commercial vehicle rental was the solution.
The company signed new contracts with companies in the food and transport sectors. Gerard Fraikin’s offer found its audience. During this decade, the entrepreneur expanded his fleet of vehicles, first with light trucks and shortly after with his first HGVs.
The company soon ran out of space in Paris and moved to Gennevilliers. A second site had to be identified very quickly, as Fraikin was growing rapidly.
1960s: Fraikin conquers a regional business in France
In 1963, Fraikin already had a fleet of 500 lorries. The call of the provinces was felt, especially as customers were beginning to spread out and set up shop all over France. Fraikin first opened a branch in Bordeaux, then soon after in Créteil, Lyon, Nantes, Lille and Marseille.
In 1971, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Aulnay-sous-Bois, Nîmes, Tours, Nancy, Saint-Etienne and Rennes were added. The following year, 1972, the regional branches already accounted for 50% of Fraikin’s total turnover!
1970s: the oil crisis reshapes the landscape
International events had a detrimental impact on the company’s successful expansion. Within a few months, the oil companies terminated their contracts. Three key customers filed for bankruptcy. In the first quarter of 1975, the activity of carriers working with Fraikin fell by 30% to 40%.
As always, the company innovated to find new growth iniatives. Short-term rental was the solution. Fraikin found in this new offer a way to use its lorries made redundant by the crisis and to meet the more sporadic type of demand that was emerging.
1978: Fraikin Establishes a UK business
Expanding the group into European territory, Fraikin UK first opened its doors, with headquarters in Hounslow. Continuing the group initiatives to deliver short to long-term commercial vehicle solutions, within the challenging road transport industry of its time.
1980s: Fraikin strengthens its LCV offer
During the 1980’s Fraikin in France acquired a series of companies that enabled the development of light commercial vehicle (LCV) solutions and continued to expand its locations in France, to the cover the Centre, East and North regions. The UK continued its steady growth through the decade, becoming a recognised industry leader, to serve its customers.
1990s: Fraikin merges and goes public
In 1992, Gérard Fraikin announced the launch of a company in Belgium, followed in 1997 with development of its customers, Crudi, in Spain.
In 1995, Fraikin, as a family business, took the initiative and bought its main competitor, Locamion. Despite cultural differences, the companies were united in their operational choices. Gérard Fraikin’s goal of doubling sales was very quickly achieved. Within four years, the company increased its activity by a factor of two and a half. Two years later, it would be by a factor of more than three!
While still a family business in this year, Fraikin would grow under its founder. Gérard Fraikin entrusted the reins of the company to a Managing Director who was tasked with taking the Group public. This took place in the same year.
In 1999, Fraikin was taken over by Iveco (Fiat Group) and was delisted from the stock exchange. However, Fiat was soon in trouble and put Fraikin back on the market.
2000s: Fraikin continues its expansion
In 2003, Fraikin was taken over by the investment fund, Eurazeo, in the form of a Leverage Buy Out (LBO). Eurazeo would later sell its stake to CVC Partners.
In 2006, Fraikin UK surprised everyone by taking over Lex Transfleet, a company five times its size. Now one of the largest contract hire and vehicle rental companies, the takeover enabled the UK business to grow from strength to strength, delivering successful results and contribution to the wider Group.
The Group continued its expansion, and Eastern Europe was on the agenda: first, Poland in 2006, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2011, then Hungary in April 2013 and Russia in 2015.
2008-2013: a financial downturn that shakes Fraikin
The impact of the 2008 downturn was severe for all players in the road haulage sector, which represented more than 40% of the Group’s portfolio that year. In 2009, its volume naturally fell by 16%.
In this context, Fraikin started to restructure. Both the organisation and the brand portfolio were simplified. The heavy and light networks were merged. Many branches were grouped together.
In May 2013, the shareholder, CVC Partners, appointed a new CEO with the task of getting Fraikin back in order and putting the company back on track to return it to what it has always been, a market leader.
2013-2020: Fraikin returns to growth
In 2017, Fraikin grew for the third consecutive year, thanks to its solid performance in its historical countries of operation as well as in its new markets.
On this basis, the company embarked on a strategic transformation and growth plan, through a change in shareholding led by the British and American funds, Alcentra, Värde Partners and Canyon. This operation was accompanied by a recapitalisation and a significant reduction in debt.
2020 to the present day: Fraikin strengthens its market leadership
In 2020, Fraikin added approximately 600 new employees, some 20 branches in France and Benelux, with the acquisition of Via Location. Strengthening the turnover by an extra 120 million euros to its own business.
In 2022, now the European leader in the commercial vehicle mobility and fleet solutions, Fraikin’s new securitisation programme was refinanced for 1.45 billion euros. With this transaction, Fraikin continued to ensure the sustainable financing of its fleet and its growth in Europe and UK.