Fleet News

Leasing moves will benefit small firms

A NEW wave of consolidation within the leasing industry could prove a boon for the UK's smaller players.

Some industry pundits believe fleets will increasingly seek out small providers in an effort to benefit from a 'personal' service.

In recent weeks, a number of companies have announced a series of acquisitions and deals, with the biggest worth £1 billion between Lex Vehicle Leasing and Business Partner announced in January.

Since then Arval PHH has taken over Arma and Venson Group has bought Powermarque.

Many larger leasing firms claim there is room for big and small players in the industry, but insist their broad range of services will attract the most clients.

But Nick Brown, managing director of vehicle funding and fleet management specialist Black-i Vehicle Management, said: 'As the choice of leasing provider reduces and the bigger companies continue to increase in fleet size, largely through acquisition, Britain's smaller fleets will increasingly look to benefit from the personal and more flexible service offered by smaller contract hire companies.

'I believe many fleets, particularly those operating under 100 vehicles, will rile against this increasing trend towards consolidation.'

Brown added that low interest rates meant there was little difference between the cost of funding vehicles for small and large leasing companies.

He added: 'In addition, with vehicle manufacturers fighting like never before to win new business, the volume-related bonuses available are similar for us as they are for the major contract hire and leasing companies so we are operating on a level playing field.'

Last year's FN50 leasing league table suggested that the first company to reach 200,000 vehicles could be just around the corner as companies looked to acquisitions as their main source of growth.

Paul Talbot, managing director of independent fleet management specialist IFC, said: 'Delivering top quality customer service is vital to ensure contract retention and renewal, but the current trend towards giant yet cumbersome fleet operators inevitably means the fashion tends towards the call centre and impersonality rules the roost.

'When a customer ceases to be a name, but becomes a cypher in a greater whole, can a truly first rate personal service ever effectively be delivered?'

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