Branching out

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A new contender for the best Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus conversion is about to enter the 22-seater market. Richard Sharman took it for its exclusive first press test drive around Oxfordshire

The Bus & Coach Centre, along with Fleet Resourcing, are well known for offering a large variety of used vehicles and associated products to the industry, but a new chapter in the business is about to begin with the introduction of selling new Cento Group-converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to the UK market.

How the opportunity came about

“It all began with a Facebook advert,” mused Will Blowfield, Managing Director of the Bus & Coach Centre. “Cento Group were looking for a new distributor to assist Vanplew Delta Services at the time, so I responded with an email and then met up with Jonathan Vanplew in Wales a few times to get to know the product. He had already sold 15 Cento Group-converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into the UK over the last three to four years. Cento Group was looking to increase its volume of UK and for someone to take this on full time.

“We were already selling a large volume of used vehicles, from coaches to double-deckers, but we don’t tend to get many minibuses into stock as they are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, meaning that the finance levels are not as high, so repossession of these types of vehicles is a lot less than the larger vehicles we deal with daily.

“In January of this year, we went out to the factory in Romania and met with the owners and the management team. We then went on to order the demonstration vehicle which we think is specified well for the UK market.

“We see this in the market as an all-round type of minibus, it could do schools Monday to Friday and then take the back row of seats out on a weekend to increase the size of the boot to carry out airport private hires.

“The conversion comfortably fits in 22 seats, and as it is van derived all parts can be quickly sourced, with the chassis warranty covered by Mercedes-Benz.”

The Sprinter on test in rural Oxfordshire. RICHARD SHARMAN
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