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The appointment comes at a time of successful growth for the company and whilst Robert will focus on expanding the car business, Simon Oliphant, chief executive officer, will retain overall responsibility for the Group, comprising of three centres of excellence for car, commercial vehicle and driving instructor operations.

With more than 20 years experience in the vehicle leasing industry, Robert brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role; having worked in all sectors from large corporates, to the public sector and the SME market.

Until 2006 Robert held the position of Sales director at Lex Vehicle Leasing, where he was actively involved in the strategy and growth of the company. Since then Robert has offered Board expertise through his consulting business, as well as creating and running comparecontracthire.com, the vehicle leasing price comparison website. Robert’s extensive knowledge, business development skills and operational experience makes him ideally placed to lead the next stage of development of Hitachi Capital’s car business.

Commenting on his appointment, Wastell said: 'I am delighted to be joining Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions at such an exciting time for the company. It is an excellent organisation that prides itself in offering superb customer service, a great working environment for its people and a commitment to continuous improvement. The company has large growth aspirations for the future and I am committed to achieving these objectives.'

Simon Oliphant, chief executive officer of Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions Group, added: 'We are very excited to have Robert on board. It was important for us to find the right person who could focus on the strategic development of our car operation and who was culturally committed to maintaining our high levels of customer service.'

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.