New kid with loads of experience
“We’re the new kid on the block,” says Grainne McEvoy van Berkum about CarNext.com, where she has been COO since June. What better quality to balance out innovation than experience, and the Dutch-Irish exec has loads of it.
“Thirty years with LeasePlan, that’s more than most”, she laughs. “But it’s given me a 360-degree overview of the business.” And that’s a good perspective to have, in the new and exciting business that CarNext.com is in.
For those who missed the memo: CarNext.com was set up by LeasePlan in 2018 as a digital marketplace for high-quality used cars. It provides traders with buying opportunities, but also retail customers can acquire used cars via buying, leasing and financing, with more options (like subscriptions) to follow in the future.
The company is in full expansion, with the platform, an app and physical retail locations being rolled out across Europe’s many markets. And CarNext.com is not just broadening its scope, also its range: the company is busy on-boarding third-party cars. In plain English: it’s offering more and more high-quality vehicles from sources other than LeasePlan.
If that sounds like a full plate for the person in charge, it is. But few people are better placed to be Chief Operations Officer than Grainne (for those less familiar with Irish names, it’s pronounced GRAWN-yah). “I trained as an accountant, but soon started working for LeasePlan in Ireland. This November, it’ll be thirty years.”
“I literally grew up in the lease business, working in procurement, spending time in customer services, getting to grips with residual values, getting to know operations,” she recalls. “I can safely say that I’ve gotten a 360-degree view of the business, and not just from the customer side; also the supplier side. I know the business inside and out.”
In 2005, Grainne moved from LeasePlan Ireland to the company’s HQ in the Netherlands, where she became Director of Business Development – Operations. That meant that she was drafted into the team that was tasked with developing and implementing LeasePlan’s auction platform.
In 2017, she became Operations Director for Car Remarketing and worked on getting CarNext.com up and running. In June, she became the new company’s COO – a change that happened so organically that she finds it hard to tell the difference between before and after.
In any case, the job description is as varied now as before: “I’m talking to suppliers of transport solutions, to owners of vehicle compounds, to inspection and refurbishment specialists, to vehicle suppliers…”
“That means constantly jumping from one topic to another, from one viewpoint to another. Each stakeholder has their own point of view, and my 360-degree experience really helps me understand those different perspectives.”
At present, CarNext.com’s online portal is already available throughout the EU – the big markets (Netherlands, Portugal, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain), smaller but crucial members (Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Ireland) and some fast growers in the East (Poland, Czech Rep., Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Greece) – plus a few outsiders (Norway, Turkey).
On top of that, there’s a network of currently 38 Delivery Stores in 22 countries, offering a top selection of used cars. That all adds up to a B2C turnover of 14,700 vehicles in Q1 2019, which is 40% more than the same quarter last year. The company is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and its business activities are supported by a multilingual customer service centre in Warsaw.
Acquisitions and expansions
Recently, CarNext.com has been making headlines with some eye-catching acquisitions and expansions. In June, the company launched an app for short-term used-car leasing, available initially in the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. And in July, CarNext.com announced the acquisition of AutoManager, a platform that automates vehicle onboarding – enhancing its position as a cross-border marketplace for third-party suppliers.
Connecting those third-party suppliers to CarNext.com’s extensive network and deep expertise could produce significant growth. “Our proposition is unique,” says Grainne. “CarNext.com covers the entire remarketing value chain. Whatever the condition of the used car is in, we can offer a solution. We have no competition. And at present, we’ve signed a number of leading vehicle suppliers – OEMs, short-term rental companies, financial institutions – to add to our network.”
We have to ask, but: “No, I can’t name any names,” Grainne laughs. If and when those names are announced, we can rest assured that those third parties were ‘on-boarded’ not just because of CarNext.com’s USP, but also thanks to Grainne’s 360-degree vision.