Fleet lessor Arval increased its fleet by 8.4% year on year in December 2016, to reach 1,028,142 vehicles leased, which the company attributes to its mergers and deals.

Arval’s traditional markets, France, the UK, Spain, and Italy saw an overall 7% increase, and higher double-figure growth in some of the newer countries, including 15% increases in Austria and Poland, and a rise of 19% in the Czech Republic.  In the UK, fleet growth of 8% lead to a record of 160,000 leased vehicles.

The lessor also delivered the Europe-wide integration programme of GE Fleet Services, having acquired the company at the end of 2015. Arval’s roll out of the programme covered 160,000 vehicles in 12 countries.

The company has also hired over 900 employees, and increased cooperation with the BNP Paribas Group, including its SME solutions arm, which it says was a prime driver of growth in 2016.

Arval is now present in 28 countries, having acquired Relsa in Brazil, and forming an alliance with its branches in Peru and Chile.

As part of its Latin American strategy, RDA Renting, which operates in Argentina and Uruguay, was added to the Element-Arval Global Alliance, a grouping that now offers fleet services in 50 countries.

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Arval chief executive officer Philippe Bismut said: “2016 was a tremendous year for Arval. The millionth vehicle market a clear turning point in the history of our company.

“We will succeed by extracting maximum advantage from digital and communication technologies as the basis for seizing new opportunities, such as leasing for private individuals, car sharing, and innovative fleet management solutions, linked to the evolution of our industry.”