Industrials Showcase Nov/Dec 2021 – Interview: Nick Brownrigg, CEO Alphabet GB

Welcome to our Industrials Showcase for Nov/Dec 2021.

I have interviewed many senior leaders over the last 30 years across numerous industry sectors and had insights into how they have overcome market conditions and challenges across global business both internally and externally.

I thought you might like to find out more about Nick Brownrigg, a seasoned senior automotive professional and currently the CEO for Alphabet GB (part of the BMW Group). He has had an extraordinarily successful career to date having held C-suite roles in Arriva Plc; General Motors (GMAC); and Abdul Latif Jameel, the world’s largest Toyota importer and a major Middle-East based industrial conglomerate.

Alphabet International is a leading provider for Business Mobility in Europe and a key component of BMW Financial Services Group. As such, it enables companies and individuals to finance and manage their corporate and personal mobility in an economical and sustainable way. Founded in 1997 and since expanded including the acquisition of ING Lease in 2011, Alphabet has gathered extensive knowledge of international fleet management and leasing.

Nick Brownrigg is the CEO for Alphabet GB, which funds and manages a fleet of over 133,000 vehicles in the UK, including passenger cars, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles.  Internationally, Alphabet operates in 31 countries and manages over 700,000 vehicles.

Founded in 1997 as a division of BMW Group, Alphabet has gathered extensive knowledge of international fleet management and leasing. Its comprehensive service offering includes fleet consulting, servicing, reporting and funding for the corporate, SME and consumer sectors.

 

Q   What have been the main challenges throughout this global Pandemic for Alphabet GB and the other regions?

Initially, the principal challenge was to secure the remote safe working of all of our associates and to bring business operations back on-line in a market that had all but closed overnight as a consequence of government rulings, with as little disruption to our customers as possible.  From there we had to re-establish our supply chains and transform all logistics to comply with Covid-safe working practices.  One of the main transitions was to migrate to contactless vehicle sourcing, delivery and collection processes.  Achieving all this required agility of mind, a change to ‘normal’ management practices and communications and above all, a great deal of flexibility from the fantastic Alphabet team and supply chain partners. The macro impacts and responses were largely similar across Europe but each country presented its own unique set of influences.  Today, the main challenge as most people will realise is maintaining supply of new vehicles with the right product mix to keep pace with market demand.  The demand for electric vehicles has dramatically increased across many markets and the importance of meeting this in a seamless way, is probably the industry’s greatest current challenge.

Q   Several automotive industry trends are impacting its future in 2022 and beyond. These trends involve the way vehicles are powered, driven, shopped for, and acquired.

We are in a period of constant change, the political will to achieve greater sustainability is clear and electrification of road transport forms a major pillar for all European governments.  In this sense the UK will have to compete in the short term for its ‘fair share’ of supply of battery electric and low emission hybrid new vehicles.  Brexit has created new challenges to this dynamic which we will have to work through. Customer behaviours are also changing and with the advent of digital technology, less direct contact is wanted whilst greater ease of the customer journey is a pre-requisite for future success of any services business.

Q   I’ve known you for quite a while now, you have always been very open to discuss the market and take time to impart your knowledge. Not all are like this, why do you think that is…?

I think it depends on where your intrinsic motivation lies.  In my case I get a great sense of satisfaction from guiding and helping others to achieve their own goals.  If this approach can complement the core purpose of what an organisation like Alphabet is working to achieve, then the combination tends to prove itself compelling.

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Q   You have many years of automotive experience, four of which were in the Middle East markets. What did you learn from this experience?

A lot! I have been lucky to work internationally for many years and the benefit this brings more than any I think is an appreciation for the value of diversity.  Diversity in culture, thinking and belief-based behaviors, or market practices and geographic induced differences, always offer an opportunity to learn.  The ME was a brilliant experience with probably the two most compelling takeaways being the value of a very broad ethnic and cultural mix of people from all walks of life that I engaged with and the positive mindset which this tended to induce.

I believe that you will be taking up a new role for Alphabet in the Netherlands at the start of 2022, perhaps you can share with us what your role will be there?

My new role will be to lead BMW Financial Services Nederland B.V. – a newly incorporated business, comprised of two pre-existing Dutch businesses, multi-make Alphabet and captive finance company BMW Financial Services.  The way markets are changing requires a holistic and unified approach towards the customer especially in terms of future product and services development.  Quite simply, we believe we will be better focusing on our target customer groups as one financial services entity and my task will be to lay the foundations for this new business.

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Many thanks to Nick for his time and insights, we wish him the very best for the future.

We shall be speaking to a variety of industry leaders via our monthly newsletter.