At the end of 2020, Cacesa, a subsidiary of the aeronautical giant IAG (Iberia, British Airways), set up in Calais. Rodrigo Peñas, Sales and Operations Director, tells invest-hub.org about the reasons for this move. From Brexit to the opportunities offered by France, all subjects are discussed.
Can you present CACESA to us?
CACESA is the acronym for Compañia Auxiliar al Cargo Express SA. We are a 75% owned company of Iberia Lineas Aereas. Our traditional business is freight forwarding and airmail. However, since 2015, the company’s main focus has been the logistics of ‘cross-border e-commerce’. We provide customs services in the European Union and ‘last mile’ delivery services in Europe and Latin America for packages from major online portals. Throughout the last few years, we have gone from being a traditional air freight company to one of the major European players in cross-border e-commerce. In 2020, we handled 74 million packages and our aim is to surpass 200 million packages in 2021.
Why have you recently chosen to set up in Paris Charles de Gaulle and in Calais?
We have set ourselves up in two different locations in France for various reasons. For Paris CDG, this new base will be used for everything concerning e-commerce from China and the USA for the French market. As for Calais, Brexit has been a real challenge for both European and British companies, who now need fast and flexible customs services. Cacesa has the necessary digital tools and know-how to respond to this challenge from the Calais offices. For Cacesa, the French market is the top priority. It is a market which inspires confidence thanks to the legal security that the country offers. This is crucial for the business we do, which hinges on administrative authorisation. From the outset Alliance CDG and Calais Promotion put us in contact with the respective customs authorities of Charles de Gaulle and Dunkirk, whom we have engaged in a very constructive dialogue to discuss the procedures that must be followed for an operation as large as ours.
Rodrigo Peñas, Sales and Operations Director of Cacesa
As for the changes that occurred on the 1st January 2021 (new regulations for e-commerce and the UK’s exit from the European Union), have they been of critical importance in your decision?
Absolutely. One of the reasons why we decided to accelerate our internationalisation process is the approval of the EU’s new VAT directive which was meant to come into force on the 1st January but which was pushed back to 1st July 2021 because of the pandemic. This new directive revolutionises the way in which e-commerce packages from third-party countries pass through customs. It also standardises the processes between the 27 countries of the EU whilst imposing new duties. The relationship between the new VAT regulation and Brexit represents a big opportunity for both the customs world in general but also for cross-border e-commerce in particular. This is due to the power of the British market. The decision made by the British people to leave the EU has imposed customs controls on goods on both sides of the Channel. Cacesa wishes to offer its expertise to customers on both sides of the Channel for a faster and safer transit of their goods between the two economic zones. In fact, we are currently opening a double office in Douvres and are investigating the possibility of also opening offices in Dublin and Holyport. This would facilitate two-way freight traffic between Ireland and Great Britain.
In your opinion, what will be the impact of these changes on e-commerce activities?
Globally, it will mean a more secure environment for consumers and customs authorities. Also, customs representatives will have to make a bigger technological and operational effort than they do currently. It’s this legal framework that applies to 27 countries and the new technological standard that motivated our decision to expand to all the main countries in the EU. We are also thinking of countries like Germany and Poland, as well as France. In Italy we also have a partner whom we have franchised for all our e-commerce activities.
Can you tell us about what led you to choose Calais as the place to set up your business? What do you think of the support from Geolink Expansion and Calais Promotion?
Calais is a city whose position is very strategic. It boasts both the entrance to the Eurotunnel and the main ferry port to the United Kingdom. We want to promote Calais and become a creator of jobs and a source of profit for this area. Geolink Expansion put us in touch with Calais Promotion, a public economic development agency, who helped us every step of the way. The agency helped us to find our ideal location near the port. They also advised us from a legal point of view and even assisted us with hiring staff for our office. They are extremely professional. We are very lucky to have been put in touch with them. Geolink Expansion is the company that supported us in our expansion plans. When they offered us free, confidential support that was adapted to our project in France, we could not have imagined that they would save us so much time and money, all whilst reducing the amount of work we had to do. In just one year, we have been able to open our delegations in Paris and in Calais. Geolink Expansion helped us to decide on these locations. We are very grateful for all their support right up until the end of the project. The contacts that they provided us with have allowed us to carry out everything with complete confidence. What I appreciated most about Geolink Expansion, besides their engagement with Spanish companies who want to set up in French-speaking countries and the dedication of their team, is their global approach. They know exactly how to find the best setting-up areas and offer us real estate opportunities adapted to our needs. They have truly mastered the economic analysis of the labour market. We are sure that the new delegations at Charles de Gaulle and Calais are going to be a success, and for that we thank Geolink Expansion Barcelona and the large team working with them from France.
What can you tell us about the space in which you are going be set up? For you, what are the main attractions in Calais for the e-commerce sector in particular, and for businesses in general?
In Calais, we have rented a 600m2 warehouse with offices in the Dunes industrial zone. We need to set up here first to obtain customs licenses and to start our operations. In a few months’ time, it is highly likely that we will open a second site to carry out logistics operations. The strategic location of Calais is supported by the authorities, which encourage the establishment of foreign companies such as Cacesa. Undoubtedly, it has taken an intelligent policy to turn a shocking event like Brexit into an engine of development for Calais and its region.