Fare play: Addison Lee sold for £300m

The founders of taxi firm Addison Lee have just landed a £300m windfall, selling the business they launched in 1975 to US private equity firm Carlyle Group.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 23 Mar 2016

Addison Lee, the ubiquitous London minicab firm, has now been sold for a tyre-shredding £300m. Griffin, who co-founded the firm with Lenny Foster 38 years ago - and is currently chairman - stands to make a serious pile from the deal.

The taxi firm, founded with just a single cab in Battersea, now boasts a fleet of 4,500 cars, 4,000 drivers, and transports some 10 million passengers across the capital each year. It is the largest minicab firm in London – a major rival to the iconic black cab.

It is probably this London-centric business model (London is surely the only city in the UK that hasn’t seen a fall in taxi usage as a result of the downturn) that so attracted Carlyle Group.  Carlyle already holds substantial interests in the city through its portfolio companies RAC and heath food chain Holland & Barrett.

But this is not the end of the road for Griffin and Foster. Both founders will retain a small stake and, under the terms of the deal, the elder Griffin, John, will remain as chairman and the younger as chief executive.

Liam Griffin has announced that the sale will help fuel Addison Lee’s expansion plans: ‘We’re very much concentrated in central London but now we can look at going further afield within the M25, like the suburbs,’ he said. ‘We’ll look primarily at that area first.’

Addison Lee uses a hi-tech booking system to dispatch its vehicles, ensuring that the nearest cabs are always allocated to jobs, reducing the firm’s petrol costs and increasing the number of orders each cab can complete each day.

This ‘efficient dispatch’ system can be easily rolled out across the UK and across the world, Carlyle Europe Partners managing director Andrew Burgess told The Standard. Indeed, the firm is already making headway in its joint ventures in Paris and New York using the same technology.

The news of Addison Lee’s aggressive expansion will not be well received by the cycling community, however. John Griffin famously courted controversy last year, when he claimed that cyclists were to blame for their own injuries on the capital’s busy roads, arguing that they ‘leap onto a vehicle which offers them no protection except a padded plastic hat’.

Cyclists of the world, beware. Addison Lee is coming to a street near you…

Find out what happened when MT spent the day as an Addison Lee despatcher...

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