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BC50: Year of change for top lease firms

Date: 11 March 2013

It's all change at the top for the UK's biggest leasing companies with losses, gains and consolidations aplenty. Jack Carfrae reveals the state of the market for the 50 largest contract hire businesses.


If fleet operators had shut their eyes and covered their ears in the past year they could be forgiven for baulking at the positions and sizes of the country's top 10 leasing companies.

While the top pair - Lex Autolease and Leaseplan - have remained the same, things are different further down. The biggest single change in 2012 is the appearance of Alphabet in third place, following the BMW-owned firm's acquisition of ING Car Lease, which itself was in eighth spot in 2011.

Arval, which occupied third place last year, has been relegated to fourth despite remaining almost completely constant in terms of the numbers of vehicles on its books.

Commenting on life after the merger, Alphabet CEO Richard Schooling says: "This year has not just been about stability; we have also grown our overall customer portfolio by more than 10%. We have expanded channels such as public sector and commercial vehicles, as well as investing in the areas where the brand is already strong."

Absent from this year's top 10 is Lombard Vehicle Management, which, as reported by BusinessCar in February, exited the leasing market following parent firm Royal Bank of Scotland's restructure.ALD signed a five-year 'white label' contract with RBS at the time of the announcement, which sees it gradually taking on around 30,000 former LVM contracts as and when they come up for renewal. Despite the takeover and transfer of the business, the Lombard name remains on the renewed contracts.

Pic 1 Schooling _3 Resize

Alphabet has grown its overall customer portfolio by more than 10%, says CEO Richard Schooling

Consequently, ALD's numbers leapt by 16,770 compared with last year.

While it's snapping at the heels of Arval for fourth place, that's still not enough to place it any higher as Alphabet's parc has now more than doubled.

The absence of both ING and LVM within the top 10 has given many companies a leg-up in this year's BC50, as has the disappearance of Mercedes-Benz's leasing operation from the upper echelons of the list (it was in ninth place last year).

The German firm still runs a leasing operation, but didn't wish to be recognised as one of the largest in the UK and requested to be excluded from this year's BC50.

"It was felt that with the merging of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Daimler Fleet Management in to one legal entity, it is no longer appropriate to submit to this survey," it told BusinessCar.