|Founded||1971 (as National Breakdown Recovery Club)|
|Founder||Bob Slicer and Jeffery Pittock|
|Headquarters||Leeds and Glasgow,|
Number of locations
|United Kingdom and Europe|
|Owner||Direct Line Group|
Number of employees
|Parent||Direct Line Group|
Green Flag, or Green Flag Rescue, is a British roadside assistance and vehicle recovery provider which is part of the Direct Line Group. Formed in 1971, as the National Breakdown Recovery Club, as an alternative to the AA and RAC, it used a network of local garages and mechanics to deliver recovery and repair services, instead of patrolling mechanics.
Originally based in Low Moor, Bradford, their operations are now controlled in Operations Centres in Leeds and Glasgow, within the Direct Line Group.
Green Flag started as an idea between two friends, Bob Slicer and Jeffery Pittock, in a pub in Bradford. At the time, the AA and RAC were well established, and offered assistance at the roadside. Slicer and Pittock's National Breakdown Recovery Club operated under a different model, using a network of garages and mechanics that would recover and fix members' cars.
The mechanics' local knowledge was meant to provide a swifter response to calls, than the established competition.
When the service began as a three man business (with Ernest Smith) in 1971, membership only covered breakdowns within a fifty mile radius of their Morley Street base in Bradford, and cost £1.50 a year. Within three years, NBRC had become the largest breakdown recovery firm in the country, with over 100,000 members.
In 1984, NBRC was acquired by National Car Parks (NCP), and five years, the firm later moved to new purpose built headquarters in Pudsey, which were opened by Diana, Princess of Wales. The company was renamed Green Flag in 1994. The company, now being run by Ernest Smith as Chief Executive, was looking to expand into other insurance services. "Green is the symbol of health in Europe," Smith told The Independent in June 1995.
In 1992, a subsidiary was created called Green Flag USA from an acquisition of National Breakdown, Lafayette, LA and in June 1995, moved headquarters to Dallas, Texas.
NCP was bought out by investment firm Cendant, who put Green Flag up for sale in May 1999, after regulators blocked their attempt to gain critical mass by also buying RAC. Later that year, Green Flag became part of The Royal Bank of Scotland, when it was acquired by Direct Line for £220m. June 2008 saw Green Flag announce that it would be branding four hundred vans across its network, to match its marketing.
In December 2011, Green Flag reviewed its network of contractors, reducing the number of partner firms from 283 to 173. As of 2013, five firms represented the majority of Green Flag's network. RBS' insurance division was floated in October 2012 as Direct Line Group. The new company had declared itself a separate entity the previous month.
In January 2015, Direct Line Group announced it would consolidate their sites in Leeds area, with the closure of the old Green Flag Operations Centre in Pudsey. All staff were retained, and moved to their new site in Leeds at The Wharf buildings, with Green Flag operations in Glasgow continuing as normal.
Green Flag offer a range of breakdown products, from basic roadside assistance to full European cover with recovery, covering cars, motorbikes, trailers and small vans. The company claim a response time of forty two minutes and that they have over 4m customers. Like the rest of the Direct Line Group, Green Flag's products are underwritten by United Kingdom Insurance Limited.
Green Flag's services are also available through partners, including Direct Line, Churchill, NatWest Group, Privilege and Virgin Money UK. They also operate a specialist breakdown service for caravan and motorhome owners, on behalf of the Caravan Club. Green Flag no longer provides coverage for Esure and Sainsbury's Bank customers, these contracts were lost to the RAC following re-tendering.
In September 2010, mascot Maximili'ant was introduced to Green Flag's marketing. An ant was chosen as the company claims "they're hard working, strong and work well in a team, qualities reflected in the Green Flag network." The character was brought to life by the voice of Harry Hill, in television and radio advertising until 2012.
Green Flag relaunched their advertising in August 2017, changing their motto to "Common Sense to the Rescue" and targeting AA and RAC customers more directly with their campaigns.
In December 1994, Green Flag became the first brand to sponsor the England Football Team. The deal ran from 1994 to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, including UEFA Euro 1996, and is believed to have cost the firm £4m. The deal ended in July 1998.
Between March 2000 to March 2002, the company were the main title sponsor British Formula 3 Championship and then, between March 2002 to March 2005, the British Touring Car Championship. This was not the company's first motorsport sponsorship, as National Breakdown had sponsored rallies between 1984 and 1987.
June 2004 saw the company dabble in football again, as they took up sponsorship of AOL's coverage of Euro 2004. The Green Flag logo appeared on the Williams F1 team cars of Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima (2009) and Rubens Barichello and Nico Hülkenberg (2010) as part of the RBS sponsorship. Green Flag is the current sponsor of British gymnast Nile Wilson. On 28 February 2014, Green Flag announced that it had become a sponsor of Premiership Rugby.
From 21 June 2015 to 3 July 2016, Green Flag were the sponsor of the ITV National Weather, on ITV and UTV.
Green Flag are multiple Your Money award winners. They were named Best Breakdown Cover Provider in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014. They were also Best Online Breakdown Cover provider in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2014. The Institute of Transport Management recognised Green Flag as the Roadside Assistance Company Of the Year in June 2012.
Green Flag was ranked 9th, after scoring 81.02% in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power Survey of best breakdown cover providers. This increased to a score of 87.33%, and an improved ranking of 3rd in the newest Auto Express Driver Power Survey in 2014, seeing Green Flag outrank both the AA and RAC.