Europcar, which operates a fleet of more than 122,000 vehicles, has announced a 40% increase in pre-tax profits and has become the largest European daily rental company, according to the group.
Europcar chief executive Salvatore Catania said: 'From our analysis of factors such as income, pre-tax profits, the size of the fleet and the number of desks, Europcar has been number one in Europe since the second quarter of 2003. This new position was confirmed from results for the last quarter.'
Pre-tax profits for 2003 at Europcar climbed from E20.7 million to E72m and turnover 1.7% on last year from E1,086m to E1,105m.
Chief financial officer Gerhard Noack said: 'Overall, our 1.7% growth in turnover is due essentially to the rise in the number of days' rental, which has compensated for the lowering of tariffs.'
He said: 'The rental price per day went down by 1.8% compared to last year. This development is not yet over and we cannot see how Europcar will eventually be able to escape a fall in its gross profit margin.'
Avis Europe announced its results for 2003 at the start of this month. It blamed the Iraq conflict and a weaker pricing environment for a drop in revenue and pre-tax profits.
Revenue was down by 1.7% to E1,169.4 million and pre-tax profits before exceptional items were down from E122.3m in 2002 to E59.4m last year (Fleet NewsNet, March 4).