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Lexus/Toyota fleet departments merge

Date: 10 March 2009   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Andy Simpson

Lexus's fleet operation is to be integrated within parent company Toyota's business car department from 1 April as the former seeks "greater reach and awareness levels", according to national sales operations manager Andy Simpson.

Simpson (pictured) remains responsible for premium brand Lexus's fleet sales within his expanded remit. As one of the architects of the new strategy he claimed: "By becoming part of Toyota's substantially larger team Lexus can cover more ground geographically and reach many more potential customers in a seamless approach, which benefits both brands and their clientele."

He admitted that after nearly 10 years with Lexus he was "loath to lose something we established, but this makes perfect sense from all angles, internally and externally".

Lexus will transfer three members of its current fleet unit to the new joint Toyota organisation. However, Simpson emphasised that the upmarket brand, due to celebrate 20 years in the UK market next year, does not expect its current 56% fleet share of total volume to grow.

Instead, he said: "It is down to the quality of business rather than quantity, which includes pulling back from Motability. It is just too expensive and we are returning to normal margins. We cannot afford the low- or nearly nil-deposit schemes used by some rivals."

Simpson said he would keep "a close watching brief to ensure that Lexus maintains and increases its share of voice and visibility in the corporate sector. There will be deep immersion for previously exclusively Toyota staff in Lexus's portfolio and vice versa. It is as much their baptism as ours."

He explained that a central part of the joint approach was to avoid "two people trying to get to the same customer either regularly in Toyota's case or once a year for Lexus. In essence we will be knocking on more doors to meet more people with a bigger tool kit."