The IBO was established to develop ARVAL PHH's pan-European business, and functions within a cross-border culture that aims to share best practice between ARVAL PHH's subsidiaries, analyse then meet the needs of international companies, and ensure the successful implementation of multi-country contracts.
The international department employs 10 people in France and a further 26 among ARVAL PHH's European subsidiaries, although these local operations retain responsibility and authority for their business.
As Yvon Doukhan, international director of ARVAL PHH said: 'Profit and loss is a local issue, so national subsidiaries are responsible for their pricing, even if there is a European agreement.'
Part of his role is to ensure that there is at least dialogue between local and international agreements so that multi-national clients receive the management information and global support that they expect.
These expectations are rising rapidly as organisations consolidate their fleet purchasing on a continent-wide basis, and go hand-in-hand with sharp increases in demand for full service leasing and outsourcing in less mature markets.
Yet even in mature markets, ARVAL PHH, the BNP Paribas subsidiary, achieved impressive growth rates last year, increasing its fleet size by 25% in Belgium, 36% in Germany, and its funded fleet by 24% in its home market of France.
Across Europe as a whole (where the company operates in 13 countries - Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK), ARVAL PHH saw its managed fleet grow by 4% in 2001 to 669,300 vehicles, and acquired a record number of new vehicles, 26% up on 2000 at 116,000 vehicles.
However, certain European markets have also experienced difficulties, most notably the UK where residual values of end-of-contract cars have been falling for several months.
'We are very vigilant on residual value risks across Europe, and our local approach is very conservative. Faced with a choice between winning new business and losing on residual values, or losing the contracts, we will lose the contract. We are not here to make risky speculation but to make a value-added contribution to the client and to our business,' said Doukhan.
Looking to the future, he added that the work of the IBO had laid the foundations and infrastructure for pan-European contracts as tender requests multiply.