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Mercedes-Benz vans take Sanctuary to new heights

Fast-growing Sanctuary Maintenance has begun reaping the benefits of fuel-efficient operation and reduced maintenance costs after switching to Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

In the last six months it has taken delivery of 128 Mercedes-Benz Vito, Sprinter and Citan vans from West Midlands dealer Midlands Truck & Van. All have been specified for ultimate economy with BlueEFFICIENCY packages that combine a raft of measures designed to cut fuel use and exhaust emissions.

Sanctuary Maintenance is part of Sanctuary Group, a leading housing and care provider with operations across England and Scotland.

Most of the new vans are 2.8-tonne Vito 113 CDI Long models. These are used by electricians, plumbers, gardeners and other tradesmen to carry out reactive and planned maintenance not only to the Group’s own stock of more than 80,000 homes nationwide, but also on behalf of third-party clients for which Sanctuary Maintenance provides a range of facilities management solutions.

However, the line-up also includes 29 Sprinter 313 CDIs – seven are Long chassis cabs with dropside bodies, which are used for grounds maintenance; the remainder are Medium-length panel vans allocated to two-man teams working primarily on void properties.

Completing the tally of Mercedes-Benz vehicles delivered to date is a pair of Extra-long Citan 109 CDIs. The Sanctuary fleet extends to just under 500 vans, roughly half of which fall into the compact, car-derived category. So while the company plans to replace the rest of its larger vehicles with more Vito and Sprinter models at the earliest opportunity, it is also assessing the suitability of the just-launched Citan, the first small van to wear a three-pointed star, for lighter duties.

Sanctuary Maintenance has grown strongly since it was established in 2009; prior to this, the Group’s properties were maintained and repaired by external contractors.

Managing Director Dennis Evans says: "Mercedes-Benz vans are fit for purpose and deliver excellent value for money, benefits which we are now passing on to the residents who are our customers.

"We strive to ensure that our operation is as clean and environmentally-friendly as possible. The Vito and Sprinter both tick the box as far as our ‘green’ credentials are concerned, while the feedback from front-line staff now using these vehicles has also been extremely positive."

Sanctuary Group Fleet Manager Cliff Lewis joined the business 18 months ago and quickly realised that maintenance costs for the outgoing van fleet were prohibitively high. He and his colleagues therefore embarked upon a comprehensive vehicle assessment and tender exercise which involved four other manufacturers as well as Mercedes-Benz.

"We looked at the suitability for the job and environmental compatibility of several vehicles, as well as maintenance costs, dealer network coverage and residual values," recalls Mr Lewis.

"Mercedes-Benz emerged as the clear winner. The Vito and Sprinter are both premium products and everything about its presentation and package was first class – at no stage were we put under pressure but it was clear from the outset that both the dealer and the manufacturer were keen to win our business."

Sanctuary Maintenance Managing Director Dennis Evans continues: "Safety was a key factor in our choice of vehicles, given our Duty of Care obligations to staff and other road users, and we were particularly impressed with the array of active and passive systems which are fitted as standard to the Vito and Sprinter.

"We were also keen to secure a guaranteed buy-back agreement after five years and Mercedes-Benz was also the only manufacturer prepared to commit to this. The fact that it was willing to do so says a lot about its faith in the quality of its vehicles, and its desire to build a long-term relationship with our company."

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