Established in 1991, Eurodys has decades of real asset-based finance experience in technological equipment leasing, assistance and logistics services. Christopher Marchant talks to chief executive officer Rafael Castro about his plans to expand further both in France and abroad.
Rafael Castro started his career in leasing in Xerox, and has been at Eurodys for 16 years.
After being anointed the ‘‘spiritual son’’ of Locasystem president Jacques Mauguin, Castro is looking to further expand his position at the leasing company.
“After 16 years in charge of Eurodys, it appears to me a natural step to capitalise on my position,” he explains. “Taking a majority stake is the best way to express my mid- and long-term vision to reach the next step for Eurodys.”
In his time in an executive position at a French lessor, Castro has observed a number of concrete changes in the industry. “I have seen a massive change in the use of leasing solutions. The main driver is clearly the change of regulation in the banking sector in the last decade, and this event altered the entire industry landscape.”
Castro continues: “Also, our prospective customers – and even our current customers – have changed their perceptions on leasing. It is now viewed as a real alternative to the traditional bank loan.”
France may be a sleeping giant when it comes to leasing, but Castro is aiming for Eurodys to be a key part of the process when the nation finally realises its potential to be an industry leader.
Castro notes: “France is lagging behind Germany and UK in absolute and relative terms, yet I am confident that the French market will catch up to its peers for two reasons: culturally, French entrepreneurs have been attached to the fact of owning the assets on their balance sheet; this has changed due to banking regulations tightening the rules to get a loan. Assets are also changing so fast that business leaders are not attached to the property per se, but to the benefit of using the asset in a flexible way.”
As well as the potential for expansion on the mainland, Castro has also identified more mature leasing markets in Europe, such as the UK, as having great potential for an expansion of Eurodys’s operations.
“Eurodys is definitely planning to expand into the UK though several channels,” Castro notes.
“This includes the potential partnership of a UK credit fund as a way to find panEuropean funding to grow our turnover. We are also approaching UK banks to find a strategic partner, and we have signed contracts with sales teams to improve our penetration rate.”
This would not be the first overseas expansion for Eurodys, which has also innovated by entering a market that many in France had overlooked: Réunion is an island in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar, and exists as a French overseas territory. In 2016, Eurodys’s first expansion beyond the French mainland was in Réunion’s key construction and agriculture equipment markets.
Detailing the challenges this held for the company, Castro says: “Réunion is a 10-hour flight from the French mainland, so sometimes the logistics of organisation at the upper levels can be more difficult in some ways. There is also the logistical aspect of getting goods shipped to the island, which can require further administration.”
However, the benefits far outweighed these setbacks, and Castro is glad to have taken advantage of the opportunities presented. “The growth rate on the Réunion territory is higher than the one on the mainland,” he explains.
“There is also a need for leasing solutions, and we can find a strong positive response on Réunion. We also benefit from reduced competition: there are three banks on Réunion, compared to over 40 on the French mainland.”
Potential political disruption is not identified by Castro as an issue for Eurodys as much as it is an opportunity. “French leasing has been robust for the last year and my vision is that this trend will continue,” he says.
“European political regimes are facing unexpected headwinds, but I will say that disruption often opens new perspectives,” Castro continues. “I will not be surprised to identify opportunities in the coming months due to political changes. They might be on the taxation aspect, which may trigger some flows on the leasing expenses lines. They might be on the readjustment of social conditions, where it may trigger more investment in the hard capital or hard asset versus human capital.”
In a country known as much for its two international leasing firms as its domestic product, Eurodys is looking to achieve a greater level of prominence. Castro intends to be at the forefront of this quest, and will be leading the company to ever-greater pursuits and new expansions both in France and beyond her borders.