Fleet News

Face-to-face: Steve Harris, Peugeot Fleet

WHEN it comes to keeping fleet customers happy, Steve Harris has a basic philosophy for success.

He says: 'It is getting the simple things right. You need to ensure customers are keeping mobile and making sure dealers are offering flexible servicing. Customer expectations are growing and you need to change to meet them.'

Since taking over from John Taylor in July, Harris has taken this approach to the heart of his fleet team, as Peugeot prepares for what promises to be one of its busiest years.

The structure of the fleet sales organisation has remained broadly the same, with an eight-strong team in charge of sales to 100-plus vehicle fleets and another eight covering the sub-100 vehicle fleet market, working through the fleet dealer programme.

Both are backed up by a small team working with key rental and leasing companies, and by Peugeot's own leasing arm, Peugeot Contract Hire, of which Harris used to be general manager.

With the focus firmly on customer service, Harris believes Peugeot is ready for the challenge of one of its biggest new launches ever this year, with the 406-replacing 407 model.

He said: 'Over the next year, key challenges will be the successful launch of the 407 and continuing to focus on ensuring we are meeting the needs of fleet customers. 'We are putting a lot of resources into our dealers and also into looking at what we do to ensure we meet their needs.'

The new 407 is earmarked for launch in late spring and will be followed by a five-door 'SW' variant soon after.

Harris said: 'The new 407 will be a very important car for us.

'There has been very strong market reaction – it is a sensational looking car that will bring real fleet sales growth for us.

'It backs up several years of very strong launches for us, including the 307, 807 and 607, along with other interesting models such as the 206 CC, 307 SW and 307 CC.'

Towards the end of 2004, fleets will get a preview of another important Peugeot, currently coded A08.

This small city car, which will have the same footprint as the 206 but isn't intended to replace the massively popular supermini, is expected to bring unique features to the sector, including sliding doors for easy access in tight spaces.

Harris added: 'Our dealers already know about A08 and are talking to their customers. Peugeot has a reputation for making excellent small cars and this will help the brand.

'But there will be other applications too, for example in rental where it is bound to be popular for city use.'

There are also new engines on the way for the Peugeot range, including a 1.6-litre Euro IV-compliant HDi diesel, which is more powerful and fuel-efficient than the current 2.0-litre HDi unit (Fleet NewsNet, January 2).

Peugeot has also enjoyed incredible success in the LCV market – success which is expected to continue well into the future.

2003 certainly turned out to be a challenging year for Harris, but his previous roles show he is up to the job. Before his leading role at Peugeot Contract Hire, he was based at Peugeot's International Sales Division in Paris.

Before that, he worked for BMW in South Africa during its ownership of Land Rover and before that he was responsible for fleet sales at Rover Group and Land Rover.

He added: 'Peugeot's fleet sales might have been down slightly last year, but that was to be expected with the phasing out of the 106 and the slowdown in sales of the 406 in the run-up to its replacement.

'But we are confident that 2004/2005 will see a return to growth for Peugeot in the fleet market, led by the new 407.'

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