Grégoire Chové (Arval Italy) going the extra mile with the first private lease store in Turin
Things are buzzing at Arval Italy. Last year, the leasing and business mobility company passed the 200,000-vehicle milestone. Not bad in a fleet market of around 900,000 total. And just now, it opened a physical private-lease store in Turin. “We’re very proud,” smiles Grégoire Chové (pictured), Arval Italia’s General Manager.
Mr Chové has an extra reason to be smiling: he has just been appointed General Manager Europe. From 1 July, he will be responsible for implenting development in and synergies between four key markets: France, Spain, the UK and Italy. More on that here. But for now, let's return to Italy.
Arval Italy aims to grow 9% this year to 220,000 vehicles. Private lease is a small, but growing share of that trajectory: Arval has about 5,000 vehicles in private lease in Italy today. The aim is to increase that to 8,000 by year’s end, and to multiply that figure by 3 or 4 by 2022. The approach is multichannel, around four pillars: online, bank (via BNP partners), via customer employees, and through partnerships with large retailers. And now also a physical store.
In the Netherlands, Arval is piloting a fully-digital private lease experience. In Turin, the idea was to open an actual store. “One doesn’t have to exclude the other,” says Grégoire Chové. “Rather, they’re complementary. We’re testing two different approaches in two different geographies. What Liam (Donnelly, CEO of Arval Netherlands) will learn will complement the lessons I will draw.”
“All Arval markets will learn from both of us. We have to find the right balance between the digital experience and a physical presence. Similar to Apple and Amazon, which is now also opening stores in the US. I’m convinced this multichannel approach will win the trust of our customers.”
With its store in Turin, Arval aims to better understand the mobility needs of its private-lease customers. The actual, physical location serves to complete the online information-gathering channels at Arval’s disposal.
“So far, it’s a test. But we believe that with a physical place, we can go the extra mile to educate our customers about the world of new mobility options,” says Mr Chové. The store not only provides information on Arval’s mobility options. Private customers can also get an estimate on their current vehicle and use the buyback value towards getting a private lease with Arval; “In 24 to 48 hours, you can sell your car and have an Arval private lease car at your disposal.”
So your store in Turin is not just a dealership with a dedicated Arval corner.
“Not at all! It’s a dedicated location, fully designed by and for Arval. It’s not a dealership, and we don’t want that type of sales going on in our store. We see the people here more as Arval apostles, even without background in automotive. They have experience in the service industry, because that fits better with private lease.”
Does this private lease solution fit with the Arval For Me philosophy?
“Arval For Me is a platform for private consumers who own their car. We want them to keep the ownership of the vehicle, whilst offering access to our service network.”
You’ve predicted 9% overall growth for Arval Italy this year. That’s quite a lot for a mature fleet market like Italy, no?
“Not really. I see a big potential for continued growth in Italy for our full-service leasing solution, because Italy’s economy is made up mainly out of small and to very small companies. They’re not so familiar with neither fleet outsourcing nor the advantages of full-service leasing, which make them an interesting target for growth.”
But the Italian economy is not doing so well this year. Won’t that have an effect on the car leasing industry?
“I can’t say that the overall performance of Italy’s economy is affecting our business. We’re still on track with our growth target. We have the customers, and they’re still interested in optimising their fleet cost. And more importantly: change their attitude to mobility and think differently. That’s what’s been giving us a boost since the start of 2019.”
“We’ll need to look carefully at the result of the European elections. It may impact local politics and, depending on the outcome, create additional uncertainty.”
Italy is not at the forefront of vehicle electrification. Will that change?
“Not so much in terms of mentality, but in terms of communication. And in terms of infrastructure investment, which some major players now want to accelerate.”
So we will see progress on electrification in Italy?
“Various players, public and private, want to address this issue. The willingness is there, but the effect may be spread out over years to come, and it will be different geographically. So I’m not too sure this will have a visible impact soon.”
Micro-mobility is already quite common in some Italian cities – scooters are everywhere. There are some quite successful shared-mobility programmes too. How will alternative mobility continue to develop?
“Milan is an interesting example: it’s one of the cities at the forefront in Europe when it comes to alternative mobility, with a real synergy between public and private actors to make micro-mobility a genuine service. In various areas, from car-sharing to scooter-sharing and electric mobility, Milan is a live laboratory – and we’re delighted to be involved and help develop these mobility alternatives.”
And they’re not just popular with the public, also – increasingly – with corporates…
“Absolutely. You know, this also links to a global trend whereby the boundaries between private and business life are vanishing. Thanks to digitalisation, the transition between corporate and private usage of shared vehicles is becoming easier and easier.”