The independent leasing firm says the move proves a firm does not have to be owned by a manufacturer or finance house to compete in the international leasing arena.
As a member of Unico Carlease, IFS will act as the main contact point for UK businesses with pan-European fleet requirements, offering fleet management services ranging from maintenance authorisation to fully outsourced fleet management. IFS's sister company, Inchcape Vehicle Contracts (IVC), is already a member of the network.
Terry Bartlett, managing director of IFS, said: 'With the addition of fleet management to the range of Unico Carlease services in the UK, we intend to lead this market through innovation and quality of service.'
The move into the pan-European market comes as IFS plans to expand its business in the UK following a major reorganisation last year aimed at making Inchcape a recognised brand in the UK and a top 10 company in Fleet News' FN50 list of the UK's top leasing and fleet management firms.
Currently, the combined IFS and IVC fleet size is more than 42,000 vehicles and the company aims to increase this to 55,000 vehicles during 2003, although a top 10 place in the FN50 will require more than 50,000 funded 'risk' vehicles (rather than a combination of funded and managed vehicles). Bartlett said the growth would be organic rather than by acquisition, and added: 'Our vision is to be the best through innovation and quality.
'We are a total automotive service provider and can offer our customers the whole range of services from a single point of supply. We are investing substantially in new technology which will allow us to connect seamlessly to company intranet and extranet systems, to offer our customers the latest online services that save them both time and money when it comes to running their company car fleets.'
This investment in technology has already paid dividends, with IFS winning the Best Online Solution at the 2002 Fleet News Awards.