Fleet News

National changes its expansion strategy

NATIONAL Car Rental has changed its expansion strategy by reverting to opening corporately-owned locations rather than franchises.

The daily rental giant intends to open 22 new locations this year and in early 2003, and had planned to adopt a franchise strategy to facilitate its growth.

Now, however, it anticipates that half its new branches will be corporately owned, with the remainder a combination of franchises and agencies (where National owns the hire vehicles and the agency owns the premises and employs the staff).

Opening corporate locations will speed the expansion process.

The new sites will be located in Essex, Surrey, Yorkshire, East London, Oxfordshire, Liverpool, Chester, Warwickshire, Lancashire, Coventry and Northern Ireland, and will take National's UK network to 148 locations by early 2003, as a stepping stone to 165 sites by 2005.

Paul Green, National's director of network development, said: 'With such a tight schedule it makes absolute sense to pursue expansion through the most appropriate, cost-efficient and timely route.

'These new locations will help serve our existing clients better, win new clients in these areas and increase our own efficiency.'

National is also in the process of dual-branding 20 of its downtown locations as both National and Alamo, although the brands will retain distinct target markets.

National will remain the company's brand for corporate and fleet customers, while Alamo will serve leisure hirers in downtown locations and tour operator markets.

It is only recently, however, that National has obtained confirmation that it can proceed with the Alamo branding following suggestions that the two brands may separate, with Alamo sold off by National Car Rental in the United States as the American company seeks to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy status.

John Leigh, National's general manager pan-Europe and UK senior vice-president, praised the American operation, saying it had been 'very co-operative in ring-fencing our business so we were not caught up in the situation.'

He added that the Americans were optimistic that they will exit Chapter 11 status by the end of this year.

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