Northern Ireland-based contract hire and leasing company Agnew Corporate has been reaping the benefits of being linked to the second largest franchised dealer business in the UK since its acquisition by Sytner Group in January 2012.
The company’s fleet size has doubled over the past four years, partly helped by the acquisition, and general manager Graham Thompson predicts a further 10% growth by the end of 2013.
Established in 1995, Agnew Corporate has a 30% share of the Northern Ireland market. It’s the biggest in the country, just ahead of Fleet Financial (now owned by Sytner rival Lookers) on 3,353 and DFC, on 2,773.
It also faces a growing threat from Ogilvie, which has outlined its own aspirations for a 30% share of the market within five years, equivalent to 3,000 vehicles.
With 15% of Agnew’s customers based in mainland UK, Thompson feels the company is at the point where it can accelerate its expansion plans.
“We think there is an opportunity for us to service our local market and be a leader in Northern Ireland while winning business in the mainland at a size that is manageable for us,” he says.
“We are looking to dip our toe in the water, so to speak, by trying to identify prospective customers through networking and using some of our existing contacts.”
Forging relationships with the 150 Sytner dealerships in the UK will enable the company to offer customers a higher level of service and, in turn, assist in securing more conquest customers.
“There is a massive opportunity for us to work together and we are looking to nurture that relationship,” Thompson says.
Northern Ireland’s total company vehicle fleet is approximately 15,000 vehicles, around 10,000 of which are leased.
The typical company in Northen Ireland operates fewer than 10 vehicles.
Despite the competition from rival leasing companies in Northern Ireland, Thompson believes manufacturer funding and their one-off campaigns is a bigger threat, especially when it comes to dealing with small and medium-sized businesses.
“Manufacturers are after the SME market so they are in direct competition with the leasing companies,” he says.
“In some cases their rental will be cheaper than ours if they have a push on a particular product at the time.”
According to Thompson, fleet discounts will generally outweigh normal manufacturer offers through a dealership, particularly when you add in potential end-user support, but there are occasions when this is not the case.
Having strong relationships with manufacturers is paramount and helps the company realign its pricing in order to compete.