Cargobull Finance, the
vendor finance joint venture between De Lage Landen and
Schmitz Cargobull, has found life during the recession tough, but
still managed to grow penetration. Antonio Fabrizio


With a current portfolio of €700m,
Cargobull Finance (CBF) continues to be one of De Lage Landen’s
longest-standing vendor partnerships.

The first cooperation between DLL and Germany’s
largest trailer manufacturer Schmitz Cargobull dates back to 1993,
at which point it covered only Germany.

It grew dramatically six years later at a time
when DLL was searching for more activities in the European
transport industry, and Schmitz Cargobull wanted to build a
pan-European sales organisation, and offer financing to its
customers, which led to extending the agreement to cover the whole

“Based on the relationship which was already
there, and DLL having a pan-European network, this in fact
determined the start of the joint venture as it is today,” said
Rene Roelfsema, who became CEO of CBF at that stage.

The cooperation agreement was renewed in 2007
for another 10 years, and after that there is an “indefinite

Today, the vendor alliance counts on a fleet of
more than 35,000 trailers and covers 18 European countries – most
western European countries and the main countries in Eastern Europe
(Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Russia).

“We work together with Schmitz to see whether
we can extend our network also in other countries, although where
the business volume is too small for a JV [joint venture], DLL can
also offer its services through its own network,” Roelfsema

The company’s biggest market remains Germany –
where Schmitz Cargobull has a market share of 74% in the
refrigerated trailer sector, and a 35% market share in the
curtain-sider sector. Across Europe, the trailer manufacturer
remains a key player with an overall 35% market share in both

CBF headquarters are in Eindhoven, in the
Netherlands – in the same building as DLL’s. The JV employes 50
people, all involved in front office activity (all back-office work
is done by DLL).

Commenting on last year’s performance,
Roelfsema said the market has been “tough”, which resulted in a
decrease in financing activity in absolute terms.

However, CBF managed to increase its
penetration rate by 8% because many financiers have been pulling
out of the transport business.

“Having been in the JV structure, and having
the support of Schmitz Cargobull in the remarketing of the
trailers, and the credit environment being controlled and managed
by DLL, we have been able to weather the crisis,” Roelfsema

He said co-operation has strengthened during
the crisis, with an increased number of contacts and meetings.

“If there is pressure on the development of the
company because of lower volumes, you need to discuss with your
partners what you can do. We have taken cost measures, but that has
been done in close relationship with Schmitz,” he explained.

For instance, even if it is primarily DLL that
is engaged in the credit and risk decisions, all has been tackled
jointly in the supervisory board (in which both partners have an
equal number of members).

Roelfsema, who has been in a JV environment for
the past 20 years (working first for DAF Financial Services – a JV
between DAF and DLL – and then for CBF), believes that this is the
right attitude to work in vendor partnerships.

Roelfsema said: “JVs are the balancing act of
meeting the parental demands. What you need is close co-operation,
and Schmitz and DLL have invested in resources, and they both run
risks. But for a JV to work well there must be full openness and
trust in the partner.”