“ALD means pure full service,” sums up Mike Masterson, CEO ALD International. “Our aim is to streamline our customers’ vehicle budgets to ensure that they get the most out of our services. We primarily offer one-stop shopping which guarantees added value.”
ALD’s foundation is connected to three important milestones. In 1991, Temsys was created by Societe Generale to offer full service leasing in France. In 2001, Societe Generale acquired the full service leasing business from Deutsche Bank, and Hertz Lease, a company owned by Ford at that time, joined the group in 2003. These expansive developments finally led to the creation of ALD Automotive as the full service leasing and vehicle fleet management arm of Societe Generale Group.
Since this time, ALD has grown significantly. “At the beginning, we were active in 16 countries,” says Mr. Masterson. “Now, we operate in 37 countries with over one million contracts. We have people from many different backgrounds and countries. Their strong culture and identity are values which nobody loses sight of, and are an asset for the Group. One point they all have in common is the satisfaction of our customers. Everybody is devoted to our clients. This spirit is a main characteristic of ALD.”
Today, ALD has 4,500 employees in 37 countries around the globe. An annual turnover of 5.3 billion EUR illustrates the extraordinary success. “Last December, we signed our one-millionth contract,” underlines Mr. Masterson. “We are a global leader in the financing and management of vehicle fleets. Over the last ten years, we have been growing consistently. We are strong in the BRIC countries and in Western Europe. And, what is even more important, we have grown despite the crisis of 2008 and 2009.”
ALD’s portfolio is based on full service leasing and fleet management solutions. We provide a wide range of services within the life of the contract up to the end when ALD resells the leased car in the second hand market. “The advantages of full leasing solutions are numerous,” points out Mr. Masterson. “The budget is controlled and optimized, there is no surprise in the cash flow management and the daily management of vehicles is simplified for the benefit of our customers. No wonder, that full service leasing provides great satisfaction.
We provide financing solutions for cars, but we are not a finance company: service is clearly our core competence. Companies outsource their fleets, maintenance policies, fuel cards, insurance, everything. 75% of the vehicles are owned by us. The remaining 25% are owned by the customers for whom we only take care of services. We really add value for our customers.” More and more companies rely on ALD’s competence. They outsource their fleet financing and management to ALD and are free from all administrative duties. To support its development and to access small and medium customers, ALD has developed strong partnerships with manufacturers.
“We work very closely with OEMs,” states Mr. Masterson. “Two major sectors are the pharmaceutical and food industry. Other important customer groups are IT and technology companies. We are experts in total cost of ownership (TCO) and we can recommend the best product based upon the use of the vehicle and in particular if the car is for sales staff or management executives. Facts like these are crucial to working out the perfect solutions.”
ALD is very well-positioned in terms of driver tools, technology and web tools and always seeks to offer environmentally-friendly solutions. Products and services that promote eco-mobility are playing an increasingly important role. “As we are committed to sustainable development, we offer fuel efficient solutions and low CO2 cars,” says Mr. Masterson. “We have been able to reduce emissions in our fleet from 160 mg CO2 per km in 2005 to 130 mg CO2 per km in 2011.
ALD’s fleet growth reflects the economic health of each country where ALD operates: growth is more difficult in Spain & Portugal than in the UK and Germany which are performing well. “We noticed that the fleet market for corporates has maintained a more stable situation than the consumer or retail market,” says Mr. Masterson. “Leasing markets are rather mature in Western Europe however we have strong positions especially in France, Italy, UK and Belgium.
We also have a strong fleet in Northern Europe and a partnership with Nordea Bank, the leading Nordic bank. ALD also covers Eastern Europe with offices in Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. Furthermore, we are a leading international company in China with representations in 28 regions. In China, we are dealing with complex infrastructures and organizations because each region has its own rules. It is very much an exciting future opportunity. China will be the number one vehicle market in the world. We already started our business in China in 2006. These emerging markets have promising growth, as leasing solutions are not so well-known.
In the United States we work with Wheels, Inc. to offer the best possible customer service because we believe they are the best player in the US market. Our international market presence and our coverage are the best in the industry. This is a real strength, not only in terms of numbers.” Furthermore, ALD is continuing its growth strategy. A branch has been opened in Belarus and a subsidiary in Bulgaria is about to be created.
“We follow our customers,” adds Mr. Masterson. “There are some other countries we are interested in, but our geographic expansion always depends on where our customers are. Besides, we will focus on the improvement of quality in terms of products and services such as web solutions, telematics, and mobility solutions.
Another challenge will be to develop innovative driver tools, mobile devices. We have a huge focus on digitalization and automation. We are moving more and more towards being a provider of solutions through web and innovative technology. Last but not least, we want to expand our horizon in many new markets because there is still a lot of potential. We draw on our expertise; this gives us tremendous leverage.”