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Arval: 25 not out

Date: 04 August 2014   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

The Paris press conference at which Arval launched three new products

Leasing giant Arval has celebrated its 25th anniversary by launching a spate of new services at a press conference on its home turf in Paris.

The top five leasing company, which has over 85,000 vehicles on its books in the UK according to our last count in the 2013 BC50, has in fact been issuing automotive contracts for about half a century (it was formerly known as PHH in Britain before the Arval branding took over), and is now keen to cash-in on its international market knowledge by applying procedures that have proved their worth overseas to the UK market, as well as developing package deals for fleets.

BusinessCar had a front-row seat at the unveiling, and the information below ('A trio of new leasing products') explains the ins and outs of the new tools the firm has in its stable. We were also able to speak to the company's international bosses, who outlined the thinking behind the developments.

"We're going to increasingly sell packaged offerings," said chief commercial officer and former UK managing director Bart Beckers. "We think the market is converging on integral fleet management solutions."

Arval's CEO Philippe Bismut described the UK fleet market as "more mature, and open to service", than its European equivalents. "That is the reason the Driver Solutions product is already up and running in the UK."

He echoed the sentiments of current UK managing director Benoit Dilly, who, when he spoke to BusinessCar in September last year, revealed plans to cherry-pick existing working practices from the firm's overseas operations and establish them in Britain to improve efficiency.

"We do not intend to unify the markets. We have to have specifics to each country," Bismut told BusinessCar. "However, having said that, if you let things grow you can be sure that there are 50 or 100 ways of doing the same thing, so if you put exactly the same solution in place it's something that is much more stabilised and at the end of the day, simpler, cheaper and it's higher quality because it's less complex."

He cited plans for a telematics scheme, due for launch in the UK later this year, which follows an extensive trial in Italy.

Finally, Bismut expressed his keenness to tackle the SME market, something he thinks the new batch
of products will cater for.

"We started addressing the large companies decades ago," he said. "Everybody goes to the 'low-hanging fruit' as they say, and now that the large companies have been done there is this new market, which is untapped and that's why it's our strategy to grow in this segment.

"Also, in the long term, there has been a change in the way labour is organised. There are more and more people who are self-employed, so we need to be able to serve this sector. So things like the Mid-Term Rental proposition could work quite well with the SME market."