London taxi company Addison Lee is expanding to New York, the Guardian reports.The firm, whichhas a long-running dispute with car booking app Uber, is planning to try to gain a foothold in the £2.2 ($US3.4) billion market in the city — home of the famous yellow cab.
Addison Lee, which started as a family-owned service with just a single vehicle in 1975, was bought by private equity company Carlyle Group for £300 million in 2013. Since then it has developed its business to compete in the increasingly competitive industry of ferrying people from one place to another. These days there’s an Addison Lee app. It has multiple car options, and even a “take me home” function that lets (potentially inebriated) people to book a cab home in just two taps.
And now Addison Lee has announced its intentions to take on New York — where Uber is seriously strong, don’t forget. In London, the Guardian writes that the firm carries 10 million passengers a year, and its move across the pond clearly indicates its hopes to massively raise that figure. It will bring its number of cars up to more than 4,000.
In an interview with The Independent last year, CEO Liam Griffin admitted Uber isn’t successful by chance. But he also said its drivers probably wouldn’t qualify with Addison Lee — claiming it doesn’t match up on quality. “The truth is, we’ve been doing exactly the same for far longer and far better,” he said at the time.
As the Guardian points out, Addison Lee is known for causing problems in the sector. As well as its bad relationship with Uber, former chairman John Griffin also provoked outrage in 2012 after he said cycling deaths were “inevitable” and accidents with cars were their own fault.
The company has even taken Transport for London to the European Court of Justice to try to force the government to allow it use of London’s bus lanes. Griffin had previously told his drivers to use the lanes illegally. The BBC reported that the company lost the battle in January.
But despite these complications on the road, Addison Lee has high hopes in the Big Apple. Company CEO Liam Griffin told the Guardian: “After London, New York is the world’s next biggest taxi market — worth £2.2bn ($US3.8bn) — so it seemed like a natural step for us as Europe’s largest minicab firm. We already have a great number of existing corporate clients in New York, so demand is already there and it’s an opportunity with real scale.”
The move will expand the taxi company’s presence in the city beyond these corporate clients. It will offer the same service as it does in Europe, with a call centre, website, and its smartphone app. Addison Lee will operate in New York and the tri-state area, according to the Guardian.