Industry spotlight: Francis Bleasdale, Nissan

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With van sales up 74% last year and market share up in 2012 from 5.35% to 5.78%, Nissan’s star is rising. LCV sales & marketing director Francis Bleasdale tells us the secrets to his success

Fleet Van: How long have you been in the job?

Francis Bleasdale: I have been with Nissan for nine years now and in my current LCV role for nearly three years.

FV: What changes have you made to Nissan’s van sales strategy in this time?

FB: We have focused on four key areas:

Firstly we have put a lot of effort and focus on implementing and developing our Nissan Dealer Business Centre programme.

The objective is to support them to deliver an improved level of service and expertise to commercial vehicle operators.

Secondly we have expanded and broadened our product offering, entering new segments for Nissan such as CDV (car-derived van) with NV200, the heavy van market with NV400 and preparing the ground for our all-new 100% electric product based on NV200.

Next we have overhauled all our marketing and communications plans, so they have a 100% consistent look and feel.

The message to readers is one of “practically genius” to position the Nissan Commercial Vehicles as a credible range, delivering innovative and practical vehicles.

Finally we have strengthened our fleet presence in commercial vehicles, to ensure we have the right people, who can talk the language of vans and understand the needs of commercial vehicle fleets.

FV: Nissan’s van sales were up 74.42% in 2011, in a year in which Interstar was effectively on run-out. How did you manage to achieve such an astronomic sales rise?

FB: I think it was the impact of the plans mentioned previously and the fact that everyone at Nissan is really committed and focused on delivering successful growth in commercial vehicles. I have been really impressed how everyone in the company has embraced and understood what is necessary to secure success.

A key factor is having one of the widest range of LCV products, delivering clear plus points for customers. For example Cabstar dominates the COE (cab over engine) 3.5-tonne truck sector and new customers really appreciate its huge payload and towing capability.

NV200 offers a class-leading level of loadspace and versatility in the market. In fact in January we had our highest level of share at over 6%.

Finally our dealers are recognising the opportunity to sell such a strong product offering and are investing the time and resources to make sure they are in a position to offer what commercial vehicle operators require.

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