The ECS Group has arguably been the most active of general sales and service agents (GSSA) this year widening its network and taking stakes in various companies.
These have included taking a majority stake in the AVS GSA Group, new carrier contracts with Jetstar Asia and Finnair Cargo, and airlines in other regions and partnering with Canadian-based Exp-Air Cargo.
ECS Group chief executive officer (CEO), Adrien Thominet who took over the helm from Bertrand Schmoll as CEO in June this year, says all the moves have boosted business.
“Business ventures are always very beneficial for ECS. Since our strategy is to integrate new companies under ECS as one sole entity, the synergies are immediate and at all levels. This creates interactive opportunities and exchange of business opportunities,” Thominet explains.
He adds: “The new contracts are very important too, especially when it is TCM (total cargo management) like for Jetstar; this justifies even more the interest of having a complete network whom become the GSA of this carrier sharing the same motivation and aim as HQ.
“The local contract like Oman Air (in Benelux) is also a testimony of the good relationship we keep with our partner. Oman is already a strong ECS partner in Asia and this helped to enlarge our coop in Benelux. The results are satisfying too since we are exceeding our budget since the first month.”
In 2017, Thominet says business has been “excellent” with an overall double-digit uptick and the only slow region has been South America, which has seen a lower level of growth.
He expects this performance to continue and notes ECS is looking to grow its network in Northeast Asia: “We expect to keep same trend until end of the year. 2018 seems to keep the same trend too and we foresee no reason of decline on trade volumes.”
Thominet believes when a carrier outsources the selling of its cargo space to ECS, there are many advantages as consolidation brings synergies, while being part of a strong network allows all its subsidiaries to provide their principals with unlimited connections and options to expand their coverage.
He says being one of the biggest integrated GSSAs gives coherence to daily work and ECS acts as a facilitator by bringing streamlined process and standardised services.
Thominet explains: “Regarding our way to do business, we understood that airlines are looking for more than sellers. Hence, we are able to propose new business services and to rethink the way to cooperate with them.
“Also, we are still focusing on bringing and hiring the best and most experienced people on the local market. Our teams are strongly established and leaders in their market. It’s not only putting a flag in a country, it is much more a question of loyalty, strengthening of a relationship and trust, which bring us the capability to provide the best services within the region.”
In today’s market, he says airlines are looking for more standardised services with more security, and beyond the forecasts they are looking for a commitment, which ECS can offer.
“Hence, we provide high flexibility and tailor-made solution, in terms of IT, organisation, and services to provide. Innovation is definitely an area where we invite our customer to focus with all new technologies and BI that we can provide,” Thominet adds.
The role of the GSSA is evolving and Thominet believes they will need to transform and provide multiple solutions in terms of service, technologies and market presence.
He believes the relationship with customers will become closer and closer thanks to new technologies adopted and will be focused on offering a new set of services in the logistic chain.
Thominet says new technologies and digitisation are the new way to compete on productivity, cost-efficiency and market shares. “Obviously, this has a disrupting impact on the entire logistics value chain and we need to get the capability to reinvent our core business and face this disruption with serenity,” he adds.
And to make sure ECS remains in a strong position, he says ECS wants to fully align with the transformative needs of partners and clients and to support them to navigate the shift to compete in the digital economy.
This means changes as to how the whole business works, Thominet explains: “We cannot focus only on innovative tools and new business solutions, but we also have to make mentalities evolve to match with the future of our business.
“We organise regular training sessions and communicate a lot internally about those new changes among our group. We also hired experts on digitisation so that our group is capable of adapting quickly to the global changes.”
The reorganisation he says is the precursor to the comprehensive approach ECS is adopting to stay on top in the competitive business environment and it intends to steer this strategic expansion and concentrate on a new business model to reinvent the way GSSAs currently work.
As for the future, he is clear on how GSSAs need to be: “The GSSA should be able to reinvent itself and become more and more a mirror to the airline’s organisation. The local hero concept is not enough anymore when we see the challenges ahead of carriers.”