Breaking the mould
Every two years ITJ editor Andreas Haug meets Adrien Thominet somewhere in Asia. In Seoul (see page 12 in the Italy Special of ITJ 47-48/2014), or Shanghai (see page 20 of ITJ 37-38/2016) or recently in Mumbai – it is clear that the profile of this GSSA is changing.
2017 was an eventful year for airfreight, wasn’t it, Mr Thominet. Was this the case for the ECS Group too?
Yes, just the same. We’ve initiated some changes in the organisation, which is a very long-term process. As part of these changes I’ve taken over from our previous CEO Bertrand Schmoll, who’ll stay with us as chairman. The group itself has recently been able to take advantage of the boom in the industry, and through the acquisition of Exp-Air we’ve acquired an important local GSSA in Canada. Our biggest task right now is what I call ‘digital transformation’.
To what extent are the changes reflected in your overall figures?
Last year we increased our freight volume by 20% compared to 2016.
Will the growth continue in 2018?
We’ve set ourselves a conservative target of growing by 5%, but in fact the year started almost as well as business went towards the end of last year.
How is the ECS Group different from its competitors in the market?
There are three key aspects that differentiate us from our competitors. When we enter a new market, we fully integrate existing structures into the highest level of management. So we can compete in tenders without internal competition.
Secondly, our offer is usually better than that of our competitors. We offer services that are tailored to the needs of each client. As a GSSA we offer more than we did as a cargo sales agent; more than back-office only; we supply what we call ‘total cargo management’, including IT solutions.
A third point is that we don’t take over entire networks, but are interested in local heroes. I think both approaches are legitimate, but we’re more comfortable with our proven strategy.
In which parts of the world are you ambitious for growth?
In Asia in particular, of course, and especially in the northeast of the continent, in Japan, Korea and China. We’ll also be exhibiting at Air Cargo China in Shanghai in May. We believe India is promising too. We’ve been growing organically there, in conjunction with Saudia Cargo, DHL and Jetstar, amongst others. We also see potential in Southeast Asia, where we are now also represent Royal Brunei.
What about in other regions?
We’re present in seven countries in South America and would like to expand into other countries there. The same is the case in our European core markets, where we currently have a presence in Germany and the Netherlands and would like to expand geographically.
What does the ECS Group mean by its catchy new advertising campaign slogan ’Unbox your GSSA’?
It’s quite simple really. The industry is changing – and with it the profile of a GSSA is undergoing transformation too. It’s no longer enough to sell 2,500 t of freight a day. We want to show that we’re reinventing the business model – with services that go far beyond the previous understanding of what it was to be a GSA.