A talk with the Chairman
Interview with Yves Meignié
How did VINCI Energies fare in the tough 2016 business environment?
2016 again corroborated the strength of the VINCI Energies model. Following very substantial growth in 2015, our revenue held steady above €10 billion, although the revenue growth rate slowed. Volume held up and operating profitability increased, confirming the VINCI Energies’ resilience and ability to come to grips with the difficult economic situation affecting Europe, Brazil, Australia and a number of sectors such as Oil and Gas in particular. Apart from that, 2016 was a year of consolidation. We integrated and forged synergies with all the companies that joined us in 2014 and contributed to our growth in 2015, including OEngenharia, Electrix and Imtech ICT.
Last year a number of large projects in which we were proud to be involved were completed, demonstrating our ability to take on major projects. They included VINCI’s flagship SEA high-speed rail line project and GSM-R, a public private partnership in railway telecommunications infrastructure.
How did VINCI Energies’ continue its international expansion?
Following the 2015 acquisition of Electrix, J&P Richardson, an Australian company, joined us to continue our deployment in Oceania. In Europe, we continue to extend and expand our network in two business activities that are important for VINCI Energies: power & grid, with Omexom and Powell Engineering in the UK, and ICT with Axians and Televic AV in Belgium.
What is driving the rapid change in VINCI Energies’ markets?
The energy transition and the digital transformation are drivers in all of our business lines. They underpin the projects we carry out every year as our markets shift to smart technologies, including smart building, smart grids, smart industry, smart city and big data. These issues are a focus of our expertise and the solutions and services we provide help our customers keep pace with change. Our acquisition of Smart Grid Energy, a major load management company operating at the heart of the energy transition, is a case in point. It connects our various business lines – energy consumers, covered by Actemium and VINCI Facilities, and grid operators, covered by the Omexom network.
The brands have been reinforced in recent years. What synergies have they built?
Our brands are building more and more synergies with each other and helping us put together joint solutions and services. To support this development we set up "La Factory" as a one-of-a-kind place where our brand teams come together to foster and accelerate the design of our future offering. For example, Axians is developing digital solutions and services and giving us a head start in areas such as the use of IoT in buildings and industrial facilities; and Axians and Actemium worked together on the renovation of the drinking water system in Stuttgart, Germany.
Innovation is an integral part of VINCI Energies’ offering. How is it put into practice?
Our innovation policy is geared to the transformations under way inside and outside VINCI Energies. We designed it to be open to the players and partners making up our ecosystem. At VINCI Energies, innovation is crucial. To start with, our business units in the field are increasingly carrying out trials of the solutions and services they provide for their customers.
Then the various parts of VINCI Energies are increasingly building relationships with outside players such as startups, universities and public and private sector partners to further expand innovation. We set up Inerbiz, a managerial and financial investment fund dedicated to innovation, and it has already supported three startups. It is designed to broaden VINCI Energies’ range of solutions and services, to give innovative companies an opportunity to carry out experiments on our network and give us the benefit of their solutions. We are a partner of thecamp, a digital innovation campus dedicated to the city of the future, which will be opening in Aix en Provence in the autumn of 2017. We also worked with Cisco to run an urban transformation space at the Viva Technology 2016 event in Paris, which brought together startups and large companies to work on collaborative projects.
Ethical standards, safety and recruitment are a crucial focus at VINCI Energies. What part do they play in the life of the business units?
These goals are the key to our future. They are disseminated to the business units operating in the field and are tracked and managed via a wide variety of Group-wide programmes. Our model is as strong as it is because it ensures that everyone follows the rules. We continue to support, train and empower our employees with respect to potential risks in certain markets.
In health and safety, we initiated a strong long-term programme to raise risk awareness at our annual worldwide Safety Week event. Our employees and their managers share a fully transparent commitment to safety and it is an indispensable part of our Zero Accidents goal.
We continue to recruit very actively and in fact stepped up recruitment in 2016. Reflecting our confidence in the future, the number of people we recruited under permanent, work-study and apprenticeship contracts rose. It is crucial to invest in training young people. We have forged strong partnerships with technical and engineering schools such as ENSE3, where we are actively involved in training the class of 2018.