New leasing business in Europe grew by 9.4% to reach €314.9bn (£268.6m) in 2015, according to a survey conducted by Leaseurope.

The ‘Annual Statistical Survey’ of the European leasing market for 2015 found that the increase was mostly driven by double digit increases in vehicle leasing in most of the countries included in the sample.

The results are the strongest in seven years, with new business volumes exceeding €300bn (£255.7bn) for the first time since 2008, according to Leaseurope.

New leasing volumes for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles also grew compared to 2014, by 15.9% and 11.3% respectively.

Aside from vehicles, computers and business machines also saw an increase, rising 10.9%, and new leasing volumes for machinery and industrial equipment experienced a modest rise of 0.5%. Real estate leasing saw a 4.2% fall in 2015.

Jurgita Bucyte, senior adviser in statistics and economic affairs, Leaseurope, said: “The European leasing market maintained a strong performance in 2015. This clearly shows that businesses increasingly turn to leasing to finance their investment.

“However, the more modest results seen in other equipment categories seem to reflect a pause in capital investment in certain sectors given the muted economic activity. European investment is expected to flatten again in the short term.”

Piero Biagi, chair of Leaseurope’s statistics and marketing committee and managing director of BCC Lease, Italy, took a more positive view, interpreting the increase in leases to present positive signs for the future.

Biagi said: “In times of modest economic growth and concerns about future prospects, it is particularly encouraging to see that leasing is well placed to support business investment decisions.

“Lessors generally demonstrate a healthy positon in their financial indicators. Despite the political uncertainty of recent months threatening business and investor confidence, Leaseurope’s research shows there are grounds for optimism in further leasing growth.”