Fleet News

Lease giant aims for No1 LCV slot

LLOYDS TSB autolease is planning to have the UK's largest commercial vehicle division by 2006, following the launch of its new specialist van unit.

The UK's largest contract hire and leasing group is on a drive to boost its 18,500-strong commercial fleet to 25,000 within the next two years.

Grahame Neagus is heading the new division and is confident the group can achieve its target.

He said: 'We want to be number one within the next two to three years. We're currently third behind Northgate and Lex.

'We already have the systems, resources and manufacturer relationships behind us to power growth forward.'

The company, named best contract hire/fleet management company in the 2004 Fleet News Awards, said its Specialist Commercial Vehicle Unit (SCVU) offered vehicles of up to 6.5 tonnes and included everything from curtainsiders to fridges, standard white panel vans and tipping bodies.

Neagus said: 'This move is about adding value. We have brought in two highly experienced fleet engineers to provide clients with the very best advice.

'We will help with ensuring we find the right vehicle for the job and cover technical support throughout the life of the contract offering advice on maintaining the condition of vehicles.

'There were a number of reasons we decided to launch the commercial vehicle unit. There was strong customer demand for the service and we had noticed that the role of the fleet engineer and the level of expertise had diminished over the past five years. We now see ourselves as a fleet engineer for the mass market.'

Providing customers with the correct commercial vehicle for the required job is one of Lloyds TSB autolease's main priorities as it can help slash costs and improve accident rates, according to Neagus.

He said: 'Fuel, insurance and accident management are the three items people have little control over as they are not included in the contract hire package. If we get the specification right on day one, companies get the correct vehicle, which means they can maximise fuel economy and provide driver training.

'If we can save an operator 5% to 10% on fuel bills by optimising specification, it can save thousands of pounds.'

Neagus said the group will be looking at all industry sectors as potential clients but sees the logistics and utilities areas as being big business.

He said: 'The industry sectors where we can give the most expertise are where we will find a better niche.

'There will be a large degree of logistics-type clients where profit margins are tight but there isn't an industry sector we would ignore.

'One area where we have had a push in the last six months is the public utilities field. As utility companies merge, players in the market are cutting costs, then outsourcing commercial vehicles.'

The specialist van division is based in Bury, Lancashire, and is currently manned by eight staff – Neagus heading the team, two field-based fleet engineers, three technical service engineers and two administrative assistants. However, Neagus predicts staffing levels will increase this year.

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