The BusinessCar Interview: Tim Porter, Lex Autolease
15 January 2015
Despite dominating the marketplace with more than double the risk fleet of the second-largest leasing firm, Lex Autolease's managing director Tim Porter explains to Paul Barker how he's planning for monumental growth to take the company to a 400,000-vehicle fleet.
Already larger than the next two leasing companies put together, Lex Autolease is in a dominant position in the UK leasing landscape, with a risk fleet size of just under 290,000 vehicles. But that's not enough for managing director Tim Porter, who is two years into Lex's five-year plan to take the firm over 375,000 by the end of 2017, with the goal of then breaking through the 400,000 barrier the following year.
Just to put that in context, the combined fleet of the rest of the top five leasing companies - Leaseplan, Alphabet, Arval and VW Group Leasing - is around 460,000.
It's all backed by a £20m investment from Lex Autolease parent Lloyds Banking Group across five key areas targeted for growth, on top of the 2-3% Porter is expecting from existing channels and business each year.
"Like in any business, we're doing the business-as-usual growth," Porter tells BusinessCar. "The expectation is to do more of the good stuff through each channel, and 2-3% growth will deliver quite a chunk of the 100,000.
"We've got a big investment plan that sits behind the growth. We're part of a big banking group and it's quite reasonable that they don't invest lightly in a business," he says "What the investment programme says about Lloyds Banking Group and its view of Lex Autolease is incredibly positive - it likes the sector, the business and its potential. 100,000 won't happen by us just working harder, it needs an investment plan, and that comes over the whole life of the five-year plan."
That plan was established in 2013 and has already reaped a 27,000 increase in the company's fleet size according to Porter, who says that is "smack on plan".
"The reality is a slow start and not a straight line. If all the initiatives landed at once then we couldn't deal with them," Porter says. "This gets tougher and we know that. It requires more initiatives to land as planned. It's not pie in the sky - we've got investment behind us and we're under no illusion that it will get tougher."
Porter rejected the idea of growing through buying other firms. "This is organic growth - we've not got a 50,000 company acquisition in that figure," he pledges.
The investment so far, and into 2015, is across five initiatives: increasing SME-focused activity, new propositions termed business critical, (launched in September 2014) and mega fleet, (launched in summer 2013), investment in digital activity, and the firm's new remarketing site in Coventry.
"The investment is going into a number of areas, not just growth initiatives but simplification initiatives, making us easier to do business with," explains Lex Autolease's boss. "Like any business, we want to achieve efficiency as well as growth. Most of that means investment in digital and customer self-service, and we'll become easier to deal with." With the projected expansion of volume, Porter says Lex Autolease would "implode" if it didn't move its digital offering forward at the same pace.