Arval CEO Philippe Bismut outlines new global services

Arval, under chairman and CEO Philippe Bismut, is transitioning from a funding company to a mobility provider. Curtis Hutchinson met him in Paris as the company launched an ambitious suite of global services.

Arval chairman and CEO Philippe Bismut

Arval chairman and CEO Philippe Bismut

It might be Europe’s biggest leasing company, but Arval is repositioning itself as a mobility solutions business offering a plethora of new services aimed at fast tracking its transition. The new Arval is good news, because businesses will potentially benefit from better fleet services and the ability to improve their HR offering to employees.

Arval’s CEO, Philippe Bismut, has a clear focus on where he wants to take the business he has led since 2010. “We do not see ourselves as a funding company and clients don’t see us as a funder; we are a service company. Our proposition is around the usage of the vehicle.” The breadth of the new services (see panel), which are already being rolled out across multiple markets, is probably the most ambitious in Arval’s history and will see it expand beyond its traditional B2B remit by offering mobility solutions to consumers, starting with employees of existing clients who do not run company cars.

As part of this B2C offering it is also targeting staff within Arval, which employs 6,500 people in 29 countries as well as its sizeable BNP Paribas parent, which has a headcount of 192,000 employees in 74 countries.

Last year Arval saw big growth across its operations with its global fleet increasing 7.4% to 1,103,835 units. The brand is targeting further growth to 1.3 million units by the end of 2020. The business is truly global with operations in 29 countries across Europe, Latin America, China and India. Arval’s largest market is France where its leased fleet totals 304,717 units, followed by Italy (184,677) and the UK (161,418).

For Bismut, the latest announcements signal that it’s all change for Arval in what is both a clearly thought out and executed strategy across all its international markets. “We are ready to make a new strategic move as a mobility solutions company; the move into the consumer market will be a change in scale for us,” he says. “Until now our focus was to supply company cars for corporate organisations but now we have a much wider target: the individual. In our client’s businesses there are more employees than company car drivers, but they also have the need for a car. Our new ambition is to address this wider market.”


Bismut’s background

French-born and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bismut’s early career in data processing management has given him an invaluable first-hand appreciation of the necessity of having a single digital foundation across the group. “Since the beginning of my career, I have always believed that digital technology would be an enabler of innovation and creation and that software would open infinite possibilities,” he explains.

Consequently, Arval has invested heavily in delivering a new and evolving IT and digital infrastructure to share across the business making it ideally placed to operate on a truly global basis. With different markets sharing the same platform, services developed in one market can easily be launched in another.

Bismut cites the example of Italy, which has an under-developed fleet market, leading Arval to establish a strong presence in the personal leasing area. This made Italy the perfect place to trial the pivotal Arval For Me service, offering access to vehicles to non-company car drivers within client organisations, as well as Arval Car Sharing, a digitally-led alternative for firms running pool cars.

“Italy is an internal lab for many initiatives. It was the first country where we rolled out our full IT and digital infrastructure and for that reason they are slightly ahead of the game, internally they are around six months ahead of other countries, explains the Arval man. “Also, as a result of a lack of a strong network of service providers, Arval Italy has managed the relationship with the driver end to end with a network of logistics that we control, as a result we had the opportunity to pioneer new services in Italy more so than other countries.”


Future thinking

Thinking locally but acting globally is at the heart of the Arval plan to become a mobility provider as the company opens itself up to a massive new customer base which should help it achieve its ambitious 2020 numbers. But, that’s just the start, where does Bismut see the company in five years’ time? “In theory there will be one Arval brand that we don’t have today as it is just in its infancy,” he says. “We are treading into the consumer market. Before, the core business of Arval was corporate but several years ago we set up the SME Solutions division with a specific purpose to take the same value proposition we were offering corporates but make it simple, efficient and easy to use and install for small businesses.

“We now have a third leg, which is our consumer proposition. That will be the main difference. This new business will make the existing business progress a lot. In many other sectors when you launch into the consumer market then there is a positive effect on the corporate business.

“We still have some way to go in our digital transformation. The foundation of our IT systems is the My Arval reporting but we have another set of internet projects underway which is basically a full reengineering of all our processes end to end including the drivers of the networks. In five years, let’s say, we will clearly be a new company.”



The move into mobility solutions

Arval’s repositioning as a mobility solutions company is based on the launch of an ambitious range of services and products covering five main areas:

Arval For Me provides non-company car drivers access to Arval’s established network covering repair and maintenance, relief cars, pick-up and drop off. Initially launched in Italy, Spain, UK and France, Arval plans to make it available in all markets across the world.

Arval Car Sharing is an alternative pool car service, for business and private usage, providing employees with access to a car for a pre-reserved period. Initially trialled in Italy it will be progressively deployed throughout Europe.

Arval For Employee is designed for Arval’s client’s staff and covers salary exchange, car leasing, leaver offers as well as Arval Car Sharing and Arval For Me. Tailored on a country basis it will debut in France, UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

My Arval is a full digital suite with a web portal for fleet managers and an app for drivers. The service is already available in 23 countries and will be rolled out to all 29.

Electric Vehicle is an extension of Arval’s existing leasing options on EVs based on a new partnership with Renault, Nissan and NewMotion but with added services such as work and domestic charging point installation. It will be launched in France, followed by the UK, Belgium, Norway (a new market for Arval) and the Netherlands with a further nine countries going live in Q2 2018.

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Curtis Hutchinson

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