It turns out that the humble car park is not the dull, single-use necessity that it once was, which is good news for car park operator APCOA.
“We do a lot more than parking,” APCOA Parking CEO Philippe Op de Beeck said.
Electric vehicle charging is one new service that the company is providing within the carparks that it manages. Now it is also contributing to the last-mile portion of supply chains by offering a logistics service in some places. Car parks can be used for logistics operations to break down loads for final delivery by smaller vehicles such as electric vans or bikes.
“Whether they’re the biggest [operator] like Amazon, or a smaller one, they all lose money on this last mile, because that’s where it goes from big volumes to single-door stuff.”
This new opportunity emerged around 2020 when covid meant that delivery volumes suddenly became much larger, he explained.
“You saw all these vans driving around, and cities don’t like that,” Op de Beeck said. Originally APCOA merely hosted the load breaking but Op de Beeck foresees the company providing the whole last-mile process, and doing so for a number of operators simultaneously.
“It doesn’t make sense that each of them do this work on the same floor, in the same space and that’s why we see a model for us.”
But APCOA’s main service, car park management and using technology to maximise income, is in increasing demand, particularly from funds. More of them need third-party expertise because, while they can own the asset, very often they are prohibited from managing the operational aspects. “They buy a car park and need an operator like us to do that, so is also a trend,” Op de Beeck said.