PORTUGAL - Transport
Head of Marketing, Moldtrans Portugal
Luís Castro Paupério is an architect based in Porto. A founding partner of escritóriopequeno: arquitectura — established in 2017, with several built projects in the Porto Metropolitan Area —, he has been collaborating with the freight forwarder Moldtrans, specifically within the Marketing and Communications department, implementing the company’s strategies in Portugal. He holds a Master Degree in Architecture and is currently working on his PhD in Art Education, at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. This has led him to speak at several international conferences and workshops, such as ECER, The NW29 Winter School, EPRAE and EI_EA. He is also a member of i2ADS, the Research Institute in Art, Design and Society.
TBY talks to Luís Castro Paupério, Head of Marketing of Moldtrans Portugal, about international operations, the business community, and a medium-term outlook.
What is the importance of Portugal, in light of the international operations of Moldtrans?â€¨
In Portugal, we represent a small slice of the company. While we are well over 300 people in the entire Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands; here, we employ 30 people, distributed by 3 locations. Moldtrans has had a steady and progressive growth throughout the years—we are taking about over 40 years of existence in Spain, and almost 20 years of capital in Portugal, even though in Porto, there is a team with more than 30 years of experience—and we believe we are now in a point of transition, from a “family owned/locally relevant” company, to an internationally ambitious one. This leads us to a multiple action: to understand the importance of Portugal in light of the international operations of the company, I believe one must also understand Portugal—business wise—in its specificities. That has to do with acknowledging the relevance of small and medium sized enterprises within the Portuguese market, and representing almost 100% of the business fabric here, and the lack of global Portuguese brands. To feed the international options of transport, competitively, is to also present these companies with a viable partner in the internationalization of their products, if we’re talking about export, and to support the costs and quality of the products, if we’re talking about import; consequently, these companies end up diversifying their products and clients. This is how, in Portugal, Moldtrans proved its success and how we’re part of such expansion. By increasing our presence in the territory, by merger and acquisition, we are building the strategy of the company for the following years: to, locally, support businesses in their activities and to promote their international presence. These are our plans for the nearby future and this is how Portugal can continue to relevantly contribute to the international operations’ policy.
Can you share some indicators summing up the performance of the company in 2021?
2021 has proven to be a good year for us. In Portugal we raised the revenue from 5,5 million euros, 2020, to 7 million, in 2021, which is an increase of more than 25%, while the EBIT increased 40%. All around — Portugal and Spain — we are talking about a revenue of 103 million euros, 35% more than in 2020. We are working with over 12.000 clients in Portugal and Spain altogether. This is due to: i) buying better (using “confirming” or negotiating reductions through payment conditions); ii) less dependence on banks; iii) better cost managing; iv) increase in production while maintaining the same number of employees.â€¨â€¨
How would you assess the impact of the pandemic on the Portuguese Business Community?
This is a delicate matter. If you’re in a business you must always regard an obstacle as opportunity; this may be done by tackling such obstacle directly or by going around it. In paper, this looks good, but we must also acknowledge that the pandemic badly affected every element within the supply chain, and a lot of businesses—and we must not forget, people—were not able to make it an opportunity. We must remember that.â€¨For us, however, it has been a good opportunity: during the last four years we’ve set out to improve our sea and air transport service, and the last two years have given us an important boost. This is also a consequence of a more detailed sales approach, helping already existing clients into new possibilities of business or, if they weren’t working with us in this type of service, to begin to do so. Not only that, but we’ve been able to attract several new clients due to our diversification of services. Other than the already famed road service and the more competent sea and air freight, we have invested our efforts in a standardized pallet transport service connected to all of Europe, express services which have helped some clients to get around the drastic delays that have happened, and globally we have in-house customs management, with an authorized warehouse. Throughout these years, we’ve set the bar high and we’ve managed to jump over it; this has happened, of course, also due to the hard work and compromise of everyone in the company.
What are the current trends emerging within the Transportation & Logistics sector?
â€¨E-commerce is an important trend and has changed the dynamics of the sector, but specifically in B2C situations. We are more suited to B2B contexts; but since we are talking about the digital, one must not forget the developments of AI, especially in planning and in managing of a warehouse. Other than that, and this is quite interesting, is its support in dynamic pricing, especially in a global context where the value of raw materials fluctuate all the time. I should also add that bespoke services are quite valued by the clients, such as delivering and setting up furniture which we’ve already begun doing in Spain. In Portugal, there is an important trend that has been very important to us and clients alike: the outsourcing of warehouse management. This is a great opportunity to, on the one hand, diversify our services and activities, and, on the other, help clients focus even more on their own products. All-around, time is saved and quality deeply improved.
How does Moldtrans instill and carry out the concept of innovation in its daily operations?
â€¨These last years, we’ve set as a priority the perfecting of the digital aspect in our company. We are using BeOne, which is a complex but very vast software, throughout all our departments, be it sales, operational, accounting and even managing. In short, the possibility for combining these aspects result in two fundamental improvements: i) accelerating the processes (more work done in less time and more agility before the clients); ii) reducing the probability of mistakes in the process (which also has to do with a more precise communication between employees). These two points—optimizing time and annulling mistakes—are very important, not only for the clients who are better served, but also for the employees who feel their work is more valued. This a key aspect. Other than that, we’ve been dynamizing the marketing and communication actions, internally and externally, basing such activities in so-called wellness (examples: healthy food challenge, e-olympics). Even though we are a transport company, we must also understand that our employees—and my colleagues—are people, as well as the clients. This also has led us to become more involved with social organizations (annually, we support different institutions in both countries); not only that, but, and recognizing that we are in a business that is responsible for a great amount of carbon emissions, even if not always directly, we’ve been changing our habits: we’ve cut plastic in the coffee machines (it’s a lot!), changed the lighting features for more ecologic ones and we’ve been managing our heating/cooling systems so as to reduce emissions, and also costs. We want to be a good business for sure, but also play an important social role. It’s not innovation per se, but it is necessary and urgent.
How does the company shape its competitive advantages in a market characterised by increasing competition?â€¨
We are globally oriented and we only work with good suppliers; we have strategic deals with freight forwarders throughout the world for regular transport and, we work with four global freight forwarders networks—these networks only encompass certified companies. Anyway, there’s something I’d like to add. I think we’ve approached our strategies in our services in the previous questions, so I would like to tackle another issue which must me valorized: our team. We’ve managed to keep a healthy work environment and a heterogeneous group of people, with some employees having decades of experience in the field, and others just starting now. I am not going to be frivolous and say that we are all best friends, but we do keep a high level of respect and care for each other. This transpires to our clients, who many times deal with different departments. In a deeply competitive market, the human approach makes, indeed, the difference.
What are your main targets set for 2022 and what is your medium term outlook?
â€¨In Portugal, specifically, we’ve set some targets which may seem prudent, at first, but we must not forget that we are living in a very peculiar time — in-between a pandemic and a war. So, in short, we want to: i) achieve a 7.5 million euro revenue; ii) increase EBIT up to 40%. We are talking about these numbers nationally because, in the medium term, we predict the merging of Moldtrans Porto and Moldtrans Lisboa. As we’ve become more solid in sea freight, we want to diversify our offer, and we intend to increase our logistics operations, especially within customs warehouse management. Strategically speaking, we intend to fuel our growth and market consolidation in the following years through M&A processes, in Portugal and Spain. We are already in very important locations throughout the Iberian Peninsula—and we cover the entire territory, also in the Canary Islands—but we want to further this reach. At the time, we have a steady presence and a good name in the market; we now intend to increase this, be it in our size, and thus revenue, but also in the diversification of our services, which allow for a highlighted recognition.
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