LeasePlan is starting to see a “glimmer of confidence” in UK plc which is starting to translate in greater employment opportunities and a boost in company vehicle purchases.
One tell-tale sign is the uplift in the number of vehicles being de-fleeted as companies return to more normal operating cycles.
David Brennan, LeasePlan UK’s managing director, believes the combination of a reasonably stable economy and carefully managed businesses is resulting in a fleet recovery, although not in all sectors.
“Corporate is strong, SME is strong and we are seeing good business from new customers,” he says. “But public sector is tough. We are holding our own in a declining market. There are lots of tenders where only price matters, not service.”
LeasePlan shies away from price-led agreements which means it does not participate in the Government-driven public sector e-auctions for leasing partners.
“If the only agenda is price, this reduces the available margin to invest in improving the business,” Brennan says.
The need to constantly evolve and improve is essential in an increasingly demanding sector. Services which a few years ago would’ve wowed and delighted fleets are now accepted as normal practice.
A major focus or the business is to develop its mobility solutions offering. Brennan is sketchy on the detail, although he explains the strategy involves customers doing everything with LeasePlan – accident management, telematics, SMR, fleet management, car share, fuel, rental, breakdown, tyres and funding.
“Mobility solutions are part of our strategy for the future,” he says. “It’s short-term, long-term and everything in between.”
In the Netherlands the company operates a travel management business which combines trains, vehicles and bikes for a complete mobility mix product. It’s also a model that manufacturers like BMW and Peugeot are looking at with car share and rental initiatives.
“We are trying to work out how to aggregate it in a way that the customer wants,” Brennan says. “The business model in the UK is different to the Netherlands. But the next generation looks at mobility in a different way. We have car clubs in other markets but not the UK – yet.”
He adds: “Data is critical. If you understand what’s going on with 145,000 vehicles , you know the answers to the questions. We are turning data into information that customers can use; it’s critical for insight.”
As a supplier offering funding in 31 countries, LeasePlan is well-placed to comment on the much talked about trend towards global procurement.
Brennan agrees with the widely held view that more companies are looking for single supply arrangements but says the trend is not just among larger pan- European or global customers: “We are winning business with lots of customers operating in just two or three countries that are looking at having the same supplier.”