PERSONAL contract hire and small business leasing specialist, Intelligent Car Leasing (ICL), has appointed well-known industry figure, Chris Smith, as its new commercial director as it looks to further expand its operations.
ICL, which is headquartered in Glasgow, currently provides new vehicle finance solutions for private customers and SMEs through a network of preferred funders.
It is owned by the same shareholders responsible for the highly successful leasing and fleet management specialist, Fleet Alliance, which has over 18,500 vehicles under management, although it is operated completely separately.
Smith, 58, who has more than 37 years’ experience in the leasing and finance sector, joins the company from Manchester-based Leasing Options where he was most recently operations director.
As commercial director at ICL, he will be responsible for growing the business in both the SME and personal leasing markets in what he describes as “an all-encompassing role.”
“Basically, I will be responsible for running the business, which is still in its comparative infancy in the personal leasing and SME sector but which we plan to build into a major player,” said Smith.
“The broker channel is now very mature and it has become a legitimate volume channel for the vehicle manufacturers and funders, having seen rapid growth in recent years.
“As a sector, it has become increasingly professional, innovative and dynamic, and we have witnessed a dramatic increase in personal contract hire. This has now become a major product which people use to acquire new cars and the broker sector has seen massive growth from private individuals as a result.
“I think this trend will continue , not only as more people move out of company cars and acquire their own cars through personal leasing contracts, but also as consumers increasingly use this method for their new vehicle requirements,” he added.
Smith said that a key factor in the expanding personal contract hire market had been the development of the internet and web-based products and solutions, such that a growing percentage of buyers now preferred the ease of transacting electronically.
“To be able to facilitate that, we need to have a very strong web presence as so much personal leasing business these days is carried out online.
“Today, buyers tend not to need to talk to sales people before making their choice of new vehicle having carried out much of their research beforehand. They expect to be able to opt to trade online as well as interacting with skilled sales advisers. They are much more interested in competitive pricing and high service levels, and that’s exactly what we intend to give them.”