According to the Paris-headquartered ECS Group of general sales agents the company expects turnover to reach US$1.1 billion in 2015. This would be an increase of approximately US$230
million compared on the 2014 sales that reached US$928 million. Volumes which stood at 700.000 tons last year should also take quite a leap. The forecasted development is a result of intensified
customer relations, new business acquired by ECS and the group’s constantly growing global reach.
ECS Chairman Bertrand Schmoll is a manager who celebrates successes rather quietly, making no big fuss of financial or operational goals reached or even exceeded by his enterprise. However, the
realistic prospect of clearly surpassing the landmark of US$1 billion in sales this year is a unique achievement and an acknowledgement that Bertrand, his management team together with the 800
employees standing on the payroll of the 12 ECS group members have done a lot right in the past and seemingly are continuing doing so.
Trust in partnership
One of the core principles is the group affiliate’s aim to establish a long-term partnership with a mandate airline. One vivid example of this philosophy is Brussels Airlines Cargo that handed over its entire Europe to Africa cargo business and meanwhile also the flows on North Atlantic routes to the ECS Group. The Belgian airline’s head of cargo, Herman Hoornaert states: “Over years this has worked out very beneficial for both parties involved.”
Total cargo management is fast gaining ground
Outsourcing the own cargo business is an accelerating trend seen in the airline world, states Bertrand, predominantly due to cost reasons. Take Royal Air Maroc that used to manage sales on its own for many years but eventually started to cooperate with ECS, first on a low scale but then with increasing velocity. Meanwhile, ECS is responsible for their entire traffic on routes from Europe to Morocco and also sales on the airline’s eastbound flights from the U.S. Currently, this includes the sector New York (JFK) to Casablanca on which Royal Air Maroc operates a Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ twice a day. “This aircraft can uplift each time between 12 to 14 tons of cargo, depending on the number of passengers and their luggage,” states Bertrand. That amounts to an average lower deck capacity of something like 175 tons per week which more or less equals two MD-11 freighter aircraft,” illustrates Bertrand.
In addition to pure sales activities the group offers an array of different services, including the road feeding of goods, customs clearance procedures, documentation, claims, invoicing and data control as well as automated status reporting. This diverse range of tasks summarized under the term “Total Cargo Management” is gaining increasing importance for airlines, confirms Adrien Thominet, the ECS Group’s Chief Operating Officer.
Turkey follows India
He points out the Group’s remarkable step into the Indian market that first took place in 2012 by serving fast expanding LCC carrier Air Asia India and includes meanwhile 16 stations at the country’s main gateways. “This is a vivid example of the way we are trying to tap into new markets by growing together with our customer,” says Adrien. A similar development the ECS managers expect to happen in Turkey where the group has recently set foot. There, the GSA has chosen to build upon and develop partnerships with existing market players. “This way we get immediate expertise and strong market awareness, thanks to existing local firms joining our group,” explains Adrien.
Chairman Bertrand adds to this that local airlines are more and more encouraged to outsource their cargo activities due to fast rising labor costs in Turkey. “If so, we are there,” he says.
Commissions tend to decrease
Currently, 70 percent of the annual revenue generated by the group stem from European activities, despite the increasing globalization on the part of the French GSA. But international activities are becoming more important step by step, says Bertrand, which on the long run will lead to a reduced dependency of his company on the European market.
The bad news he delivers is the fact that commissions paid by the airlines for services rendered by their partnering GSA are continuously going south. “But as long as we grow the way we lately have we will manage to more than compensate this development,” he concludes.