Over the next decade, a revolution will take place on Britain’s roads which will change motoring forever.
We’re entering the age of the electric vehicle, and Bruce Galliford of Yorkshire-based RAW Charging aims to be the standard bearer for a more environmentally friendly form of transport.
Throughout his career, Mr Galliford has sought out business opportunities that placed him ahead of the field. Two decades ago, he floated ICOLLECTOR PLC when online trading was in its infancy, and he lives for the adrenaline rush of new markets and challenges.
Wetherby-headquartered RAW Charging is an electric vehicle charging business which hopes to become a household name.
“I hope that one day, wherever you are in the country, you have just got to look for a Raw Charger and you know it will always work,” said Mr Galliford. “I want it to be a name that people can trust.”
The sale of conventionally-fuelled new cars will be banned in the UK from 2030, which means millions of drivers will soon be looking for electric charging facilities on their doorstep. This poses the opportunity of a lifetime for entrepreneurs like Mr Galliford.
RAW’s majority shareholder is Bayford Group, which is run by entrepreneur Jonathan Turner. They are also large shareholders in Fulcrum Utility Services, based in Sheffield. The majority of RAW Charging’s clients are large property companies looking to asset manage their estates, such as Greene King, Aviva and McArthurGlen, which has an outlet in York.
Mr Galliford, who is the son of Peter Galliford, the founder of Galliford Try, established RAW Energy, the predecessor to RAW Charging, in 2012 in response to profound economic changes.
He recalled: “We started life as a renewables company and in 2015 we got one of the first Teslas into the country. Much of the discussion in the office was around the lack of public charging places for people who wanted to use electric vehicles. We are really passionate about electric vehicles and make sure that everyone in the business has experience of driving them.
“All the stars aligned and we set up Raw Charging. Early on, we went out to 65 of the biggest property owners and they already had this issue in their inbox.”
Last year, RAW Charging, announced the acquisition of the business and assets of Franklin EV Limited, which included 128 EV charging ports.
“Franklin EV already did a lot of work in the north of England, with Sheffield council and QParks, so it gives us a wider cross section of customers, particularly in the public sector,” said Mr Galliford.
Many council car parks remain empty at night. If they are fitted with a bank of chargers, local people will be able to charge their car while they sleep.
Mr Galliford stressed, for example, that the relationship with Greene King was not really focused on the pub chain’s customers but the local community, particularly in rural areas, who could charge their cars in the pub car park.
“We want to give something back,” he said. “I live in Oxfordshire, and know that, if I drive up to the company’s headquarters at Bowcliffe Hall, I can get eight hours of charging for the journey home.
“Anywhere with a car park could become one of our customers. Our intention is to install a network of between 40,000 and 50,000 chargers over the next five years.
“It’s fantastic having the backing of investors who share that same goal. It’s a great position to be in.”
Mr Galliford started his career at Rothschild Asset Management before floating ICOLLECTOR, which developed online bidding services for auctioneers, during the volatile days of the dotcom boom.
He said: “My experience at Rothschild gave me experience of the money side of business. Once I had gained that understanding I thought I could go off and do whatever I wanted.
“The IPO (initial public offering) of ICOLLECTOR was a rollercoaster ride. After the launch, we spent the next year with the share price going down.
He added: “We were swimming in a water full of traditionalists in the fine art world. But overall it was interesting and valuable experience.”
Mr Galliford than floated a food distribution business in Spain and RAW Charging was formed in 2018 to take advantage of the Government’s commitment to electric vehicles.
“In places like the US and Europe, if you do fall down in business, they believe it gives you the tools to do it properly next time,” said Mr Galliford.
“My interest in energy harks back to my father, who was really taken with the idea of energy savings in the household,” said Mr Galliford. “While I was working in Spain I became aware of their solar and wind projects. I was fascinated by them and I could see we needed to change the way we worked with energy.
“It really piqued my interest. I love the excitement and rollercoaster ride of being involved with fast-growing companies.”
Yorkshire is still massively underserved with public charging points.
A survey has indicated that millions of drivers are still feeling uncertain about how to charge electric vehicles (EVs). Around 39 per cent of respondents said they would not feel comfortable about knowing which chargepoint would be compatible with a particular EV, according to an AA Driving School poll of more than 13,400 motorists.
Mr Galliford wants to ensure the whole of Britain is covered with chargers, so motorists need not worry about the future.
“People don’t want to take the risk of buying an electric car if they believe there are only a handful of charges,” said Mr Galliford. “Somebody in a terraced house in Yorkshire has just as much right to have access to a charger as somebody living in London.
He added: “Around 95 per cent of people in London live within a five-minute walk of an electric charger. Things are changing and Sheffield Council, in particular, have been brilliant.”
Over the next decade, car parks around Britain could play a pivotal role in the drive to reduce global warming. Raw is leading the charge to a greener future.