Editor, Paul Gibson, Founder of The Chauffeur magazine in 2003, has worked in the media industry since he left college at 17 years old. Starting off in newspapers, he soon developed into local and then national radio stations including BBC, Capital and ITN.
Now a BBC Independent Producer, Paul runs the Sussex Press Agency which provides journalism services, video production and PR. On top of this, he continues to run www.thechauffeur.com, a dedicated news and review website for the UK’s chauffeur and limousine industry.
In 2005, he was one of the founders of the UK’s first limousine show, and continues, to this day, to be a director of the ‘Drive 09 Event’ which is a trade show for the professional driver.
When the magazine was launched, it soon became well respected within the marketplace. For the first time in the UK, the industry was being recognised by a media outlet, giving it a voice for licensing and business issues operators are faced with.
Within months, car manufacturers started to also recognise the chauffeur, and realised they are and could be big customers. At the time, only one car builder knew what a chauffeur actually was and knew their flagship vehicle was normally bought by the trade. However, the magazine raised other manufacturers awareness and they started to create bespoke packages for the industry.
Paul Gibson worked with a variety of manufacturers to develop their chauffeur programmes and made them aware of what an operator wants from a car and their servicing and licensing requirements. Since then, five manufacturers have developed programmes specifically aimed at you – the operator.
The Limousine Market
In 2003, the stretched limousine market was at its peak in the UK. This was the year operators discovered ‘bling’ and 4×4 over eight seater limos. The country saw an influx of these coming from America and the coachbuilders in the States woke up to the fact there was a market here.
The problem is, there were no laws governing the import of these vehicles. It was basically a free for all and the demand for Hummer and Excursion limousine simply grew overnight, and every operator wanted one. Traders were delighted and coachbuilders tailored their build process to cater for the UK market – little did the market know that this huge bubble was about to blow with massive consequences.
The government started to see that people were making money and soon decided to interfere and the next few years saw many battles between operators and the agencies. Six years later bought strict rules and some in the UK have developed limousines to comply with these.
Unfortunately, there are still illegal operators in the UK and the pressure is on from legal companies to push these out. Thechauffeur.com supports these companies and will continue to report on the governments developments and plans to do this.