Published on, L’Usine Nouvelle, December 2016
Written by Marine PROTAIS and Hassan MEDDAH
The other major challenge for subcontractors is the "offsets", the obligations for manufacturers to transfer production and know-how to the customer country. The destination, for ECA, will be Australia where they hope that the "contract of the century" for 34 submarines will soon materialize. The shipbuilder is now in exclusive negotiations with Australia for the Future Submarine contract. The Coueron-based ECA Group premises, which supplies the cockpits and electric propulsion engines of most DCNS submarines, has 600 employees and last year generated 105 million euros in turnover. "We generate more than half of our export sales," explains Philippe Novelli, CEO of ECA premises in Coueron. The Australian contract gives the company, by its amount and its duration (35 years), an exceptional visibility. The opportunity to change gear. "We are leaving the usual pattern of the simple sale of submarines. In this particular context, one can think with a different reasoning. We want to build something in the long term. All options are open, "says Philippe Novelli.
Managing such a contract over time is a challenge in itself. Its preparation requires resources and many displacements. ECA Group has traveled three times to Australia, its president twice. ECA Group can rely on its Singapore office of 10 people, covering the region from India to Japan. The subcontractor was also part of the fifteen tricolor companies that participated in the trip organized last February by the competitiveness clusters Mer de Bretagne and Méditerranée in order to meet for a week of Australian interlocutors, institutional players but also Industrial companies. "It's very valuable. These missions make us visible and well identified. A website is not enough to let us know. We came back with a significant number of contacts, "explains Philippe Novelli of ECA. "We are making the two countries more familiar with their respective industrial fabrics. For small companies, coming to several also allows us to have more credibility, "explains Stéphane Alain Riou, the vice-president of the Pôle Mer Bretagne. Subcontractors can also rely on their principals. "Not all of our suppliers are armed to go outside their borders and rub against foreign regulations. What is negotiated in terms of legal clauses, especially in the field of intellectual property, will benefit them, "says Antoine Sajous, Director of Industrial Development of DCNS.
If these subcontractors devote as much effort to Australia, even before they have received orders, it is that they see beyond the DCNS contract. It is a question of financing the first investments and of perpetuating their establishments. "We are looking for activities complementary to this contract because the flow of turnover will not be enough to guarantee a full-time activity," says Philippe Novelli.
Learn more about : ECA Group has been awarded two contracts for the BARRACUDA program