RAW Charging is currently looking to grow organically with its current pipeline, although more acquisitions - such as the recent one of Franklin EV - aren’t out of the question.
Speaking to Current±, CEO Bruce Galliford explained that Franklin EV was having financial difficulties, and RAW Charging was introduced to see if there was a way to help, with the potential to try and pay off the creditors where possible and bring Franklin’s business and assets into RAW.
“Unfortunately, in the process of doing that, they actually went into administration, so we then worked with the administrators to try and get as much value out of the chargers they had and the customers they had,” Galliford said, adding that Franklin had some “brilliant clients” such as Sheffield Council, Oxford City Council and some Merseyside councils.
These council clients have “opened up the destination market to us dramatically”, Galliford said, with the acquisition working very well strategically for the company.
Further strategic acquisitions are also possible. Galliford explained how in the EV charging industry, a chargepoint operator (CPO) will get to a certain size where the amount of funds needed to carry on growing that network suddenly increases significantly. This then leads to a decision as to whether the CPO commits to that significant investment or lets someone else take on what they’ve created.
“That's where we'd like to be, giving people an exit who have spent the last few years building something.
“We're very fortunate we have Bayford Group as our partner and shareholder, so when it comes to having the funds available, we've got that opportunity with them to be able to expand through acquisition and through organic growth.”
RAW Charging began as a renewable energy company, doing solar, biomass and anaerobic digestion installations. With the introduction of a company Tesla, the firm began to look at charging infrastructure.
Galliford said the company spoke to a number of the big investment trusts, including property companies, due to these being the players with the land, the sites and car parks.
“It was really interesting because everybody had it in their in tray three years ago, but nobody really wanted to touch it. It was a bit of a challenge; solar had knocked property companies because they didn't know when to get in, when it would be useful and they didn't want to make the first mistake.”
As such, RAW began looking at whole portfolios, consisting of 300-500 properties. RAW would look at how much leisure, how much hospitality, how much workplace and car parks were available in a portfolio, for example, and then would do desktop studies where it looked at what each one individually could require for EV charging in the short, medium and long term with charging.
That then allowed the asset managers of those companies to have a reference point.
“That worked really well and also allowed us to start installing, working on trials, building up that knowledge. That also allowed us to start getting all the contacts to start our own CPO network.”
One of its first "really big opportunities" was with Greene King Pubs, which is intending to put charging across all 2,000 of its sites which have a car park. The first 800 of these are starting to be installed now.
Overall, RAW is aiming to have 4,000 sites over four years, with around 10 chargers per site. This will be mostly AC charging, although Galliford said a mix of en route hubs and urban hubs and a mix of DC and AC is good.
"There's no single bullet that will solve the problem," he said.
One large EV charging hub that Franklin EV had been contracted for - expected to be the UK’s largest when it's completed - was the Brent Cross Shopping Centre EV hub that is set to consist of 236 bays.
Franklin EV had been successful in a tender to deliver the charging hub, which is owned by joint owners of the shopping centre Hammerson and Aberdeen Standard Investments.
However, RAW Charging is not currently to deliver this hub, with Galliford stating: "We're in discussions with them about what the next stage is, because coming in second through a tender process means that we're in a natural place to take that on. But that one is up to Hammersmith and Aberdeen Standard."