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Nissan combines fleet and LCV departments

Date: 22 July 2009   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Nissan has created a combined fleet and LCV unit under its new corporate sales director Tony Lewis, who steps up from running the company's van operation.

James Douglas, who remains as fleet director, said it provided a "more focused, aggressive and cohesive approach, which brings all business sales relationships under one roof".

The revamped strategy should lead to 81% of business vehicle sales being channelled through 54 specialist fleet and LCV dealers by the end of 2011. It will exploit a common database, shared back office services and marketing functions.

Douglas added: "This unified business operation will be driven by the dedicated retail network with enhanced sales, professional relationships and customer retention levels that cannot be delivered through a manufacturer's sales team. It is being established without doubling expenditure and is more about investing in attitude than new corporate floor tiles.

"We aim to offer a seamless service to car and van fleet operators alike. It is not the Nissan approach to treat clients differently according to whether their fleets involve 50 or 500 cars."

Paul Willcox, Nissan GB's managing director, admitted: "Our studies showed we were perhaps not structured in the right way.

"It remains about quality of business rather than quantity for its own sake. Fleet customers will get more consistency on costs and centralised billing which inevitably helps cashflow."

Lewis's remit includes Nissan's material-handling division, which involves forklift trucks. He said it was "logical and complementary to cars and vans".

He explained: "Companies operating fork lift trucks run cars and vans and with LCVs it arguably works in reverse. So there is potential for incremental business. Also it eliminates the risk of three people from separate units turning up to see the same customer on the same day."

He said Nissan's "pretty good" 3.6% share of fleet sales year to date, up from 3.3% during the first six months of last year, concealed the benefits of abandoning daily rental and bodyshop business.

Lewis revealed that "pure" sales to leasing companies, end users and companies had risen from 65% of Nissan' business volumes to 81% during the first half of this year and were peaking at 95%.

Douglas said Qashqai continued to be a "runaway success, particularly with user choosers", eclipsing the rest of the range with 9500 fleet sales year to date against Note on 5000 and Micra with 2500.

He said the Qashqai paved the way for acceptance of the company's smaller crossover, due in September next year. Based on the Qasana concept car, it should not suffer from the Qashqai's initial "confused RV rating by being related to Almera".