Nigel Stead, the man who
oversaw the creation of the UK’s biggest fleet business, is
stepping down as managing director of Lex Autolease next

He will be succeeded by Lex
Autolease’s operations director, Rick Francis, who was commercial
director at Lex Vehicle Leasing before the merger of its parent
bank HBOS with Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) at the start of

Stead, who is also LBG’s
director of contract hire, has led the bank’s car leasing arm
through several acquisitions since he joined in 2000.

His first M&A milestones
were the integrations of ACL Autolease and First National Vehicle
Holdings, moves which led to the creation of Lloyds TSB

Then, 2009 brought the forced
absorption of HBOS’s Lex Vehicle Leasing, a task that brought
together the two biggest fleet companies in the market to create a
giant with more than 330,000 vehicles on its book.

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Although the merging of the
two companies is now almost complete, its last stage – mainly the
transfer of customers between customer relationship management
systems – will be completed this month, as responsibility is
transferred between Stead and Francis.

David Oldfield, LBG’s
wholesale division chief operating officer and managing director
for asset finance, commented: “Nigel has done a terrific job
leading our contract hire businesses in its various guises over
many years, including the tremendous task of leading the
integration of Lex Autolease.”

Stead said: “Next year will
sadly be my last with Lex, but this is an entirely personal
decision, made after much thought and soul searching.”

Stead is a veteran of the
motor industry, with a career beginning in 1970 at British Leyland
where he trained initially as an engineer, before moving into sales
and management.

He left British Leyland in
1977 to join Appleyard Motor Group’s then unique multi-franchise
dealership in Harrogate, as sales manager with Austin, Triumph,
Rover, Jaguar Daimler and Rolls Royce franchises. He later joined
JCT 600 Motor Group in 1988 to create a new leasing company, JCT
600 Contracts.

1995 was a landmark year for
Stead, as he was appointed by TSB to lead their re-entry into the
contract hire market with the formation of First Service
Management, which later became Black Horse Vehicle Management after
TSB merged with Lloyds. In 1997, he became managing director of
Velo North, then a Kleinwort Benson subsidiary, before becoming
managing director of Velo Limited, until he joined Lloyds TSB in

It is understood that Stead is planning a relaxed
retirement with his wife, after 10 years’ continually working and
staying away from home during the week.

Picture of Rick Francis (left) who will be replacing Nigel Stead (right) as MD of Lex Autolease