Interview with BOGDAN APAHIDEAN, General Manager LEASEPLAN ROMANIA.
LeasePlan Corporation N.V. recently marked 50 years of activity, period in which it offered various benefits to clients through its fleet management services. What exactly from the group’s experience at international level can be applied in Romania too and what are the company’s trump cards on the local operational leasing market which is foreshadowed to be extremely competitive?
LeasePlan is currently active in 31 countries. LeasePlan has been present on the local market for over 5 years, and last year we managed to take over the leading position thanks to the services and products adapted to client needs but also to the LeasePlan team’s expertise and professionalism.Conducting LeasePlan operations on five continents means a variety of challenges and results that largely depend on the economic climate in each region. In many cases we are talking about mature, well-regulated markets where the operational leasing concept is very well known and the growth rhythm registered a slowdown as a consequence of the market’s maturity, but also because of the economic crisis. In other cases, like the case of Romania, the operational leasing market is growing.
2012 represented a successful year for LeasePlan Romania, with a turnover growing by 30 per cent compared to 2011, seemingly defying the economic crisis at European level. What is the situation so far in 2013 for the company you represent and what plans do you have for the future?
For 2013 we estimate that we will continue the upward trend. Thus, this year the company will invest approximately EUR 20 M in the procurement of new auto vehicles and we plan to reach a number of 8,400 units.
As an important representative of the community of foreign businessmen, what are the main difficulties LeasePlan has faced in Romania since entering the local market?
Was the question of an exit raised? The biggest difficulties we have faced on the local market have had to do with delays in the reimbursement of VAT and legislative instability. We are facing this kind of challenges at this moment too, because of the new provisions of the Fiscal Code, which limit the deductibility of liquidation costs to RON 1,500 per month. These provisions mainly affect operational leasing companies that will have non-deductible expenditures and thus smaller resources to reinvest. Nevertheless, there were no moments when we took into consideration leaving the local market, especially since operational leasing is a domain that asserted itself on the market and posted growth every year.
At the beginning of this year, as President of the Association of Operational Leasing Companies (ASLO), you estimated that the local operational leasing market will reach a number of approximately 45,000 units. What are the true advantages of operational leasing and how do you perceive the Romanian market?
Operational leasing is a suitable option for companies that want to optimize their auto fleet costs, operational leasing companies offering adapted solutions for the management and administration of auto parks. As I was saying, the local operational leasing market still has a large potential, the share of operational leasing auto vehicles standing at just 13 per cent, compared to other countries where this share surpasses 25-30 per cent. The market’s main advantage consists of the openness of an ever increasing number of companies (companies that until now preferred cash procurements and in-house management) towards the operational leasing solution, transferring to leasing companies the procurement and management of auto vehicles.
On the National Day of the Netherlands I would like to wish “Happy Birthday” and successful business to the Dutch community in Romania and to Romanians I wish them to have a lot of investors in this country, investors that would contribute to the national economy’s recovery.