WDH is one of the largest social housing providers in the UK, with responsibility for around 32,000 homes. The company, which is a bank customer of Lombard parent The RBS Group, appointed Lombard in 2006 to supply its entire fleet for three years. In 2009 Lombard offered to extend the contract for 12 months to help WDH through the uncertainty of the recession and develop the most appropriate ongoing fleet strategy. The extension reduced costs by over £700 per unit to finance the fleet for the additional 12 months, which also resulted in a saving of around £200,000.

According to WDH fleet manager Rick Young, this approach proved hugely valuable at such an uncertain time, but the company still had to undertake a rigorous tender. He added: 'As a result we have reappointed Lombard on the basis not only of flexibility but cost, technical expertise and the fact that they built a model around a real understanding of our business. Lombard has become a valuable business partner we can have considerable confidence in.'

Lombard's Van Sales Unit is providing WDH with a comprehensive technical solution, handling the design and build of the vans, with differing specifications to suit different uses, and features ranging from false floors to dropsides with axle weight indicators.

To help further comply with duty of care requirements, the vans also feature a completely new roof system design developed with Trukrax, and a new racking design. In addition all units are being fitted with speed limiters and vehicle tracking systems.

Vehicle CO2 emissions and running costs were also a key focus and Lombard has helped WDH to achieve savings here. CO2 emissions on the new, solus Citroen fleet are down more than 10% in comparison to the existing fleet and Lombard says that savings of more than £200,000 will be achieved over the leasing term. The first 180 units are being delivered this year and will be run on fully maintained contract hire over four years.