A Welsh private hire and taxi group, which runs Dragon Taxis in Newport, has appointed the former vice-president of global human resources at a multinational manufacturer to its board.
The new appointment is part of a growth strategy to reach a turnover of around £50m in the next two years.
Tony Knowles will use his 25 years of experience in human resources and acquisitions to join the other members of the Veezu board as a business support director.
His role will be to help the firm to reach its ambitious growth targets by providing specific advice on IT strategy, human resources, corporate compliance and improving the efficiency of the business’s operations.
The 52-year-old, from High Cross, in Newport, is no stranger to business support and acquisitions.
He joins Veezu from semiconductor manufacturer SPTS, which is based at the Coldra, Newport, where he spent four years as the vice president of global human resources, aiding the acquisition and sale of business divisions in Europe and the US, helping the company achieve human resource and health and safety accreditations and awards.
He also played a role in the acquisition of a German engineering company while working as a director for Zuken Ltd, an electronic software design company, where he managed the integration and relocation of the firms.
Mr Knowles said: “As one of the fastest growing businesses in Wales, I knew that Veezu would be a great fit for my experience in business growth, and joining its board allows me to take on a new challenge in the thriving private hire sector.
“I’ve worked with a variety of global firms throughout my career, and I’m looking forward to being on the board of a company that has its roots firmly planted in Wales.”
As a post graduate of the University of South Wales, Mr Knowles began his career as a human resources manager for Sanken, before joining Standard Chartered Bank and going on to work as a the EU HR director for firms such as International Rectifier. Despite his international experience he continues to work closely with the Welsh business community as a member of the Confederation of British Industry and Industrial Advisory Committee at the University of Wales.
He said: “I’m looking forward to working closely with the rest of the board to help maintain Veezu’s nationwide growth, which will see it have 5,000 cars by the end of 2018, and ensure that, as a company, we have sustainable policies that provide a foundation on which we can build. The market for growth is certainly out there – the next key task will be finding the best taxi firms for acquisition that match our strategy.”
Veezu owns five taxi firms across the UK and has a combined fleet of over 2,500 cars. This includes Dragon Taxis in Cardiff, Newport and Bridgend, as well as A2B Radio Cars in Solihull and Amber Cars in Leeds.
It is one of the leading private hire operators in the UK, with its turnover increasing from £1m in 2013 to £19 million in 2015. Veezu now moves around 22 million passengers per year.
Its stellar growth has been recognised in the recent Fast Growth 50 awards, where it was named as the Fastest Growing Firm in Consumer Services as well as the third fastest growing company in Wales.
Paul Ragan, chief executive officer of Veezu, added: “Tony has worked on a number of large-scale acquisitions throughout his career and this experience will be invaluable in our mission to lead the UK taxi industry through a period of change and consolidation.
“We have been able to expand our operations to Birmingham and Leeds over the past 12 months but we are already planning further acquisitions that will allow us to establish ourselves across the entire country and reach our target of doubling our fleet by 2018. Our aim is to do this by providing a high-quality service for our users, both over the phone and via our ‘three-tap app’, so that we can be ‘best-in-class’.
“I have every confidence that Tony will be the perfect fit and look forward to working with him on the board as we continue to grow.”