Leading the way

posted on 19th November 2019
Leading the way

Menzies group chief executive Giles Wilson talks about the strategies he has been implementing at the handler since he took charge during the summer

You took over as CEO of Menzies in early June. Did you settle into your new position quickly?

Although I was formally appointed as CEO in June, I joined Menzies back in 2011, and held several financial and operational roles throughout the subsequent eight years. The experience and knowledge gained during that time has proved invaluable in my new role as CEO.

It has been a busy few months since June, with a renewed focus on customer engagement and new appointments to the board. We have implemented a cost and efficiency programme to deliver savings across the business, and despite weaker markets in the wider aviation sector, our contract renewal rate has been excellent, with key agreements secured.

We have won a number of new contracts across the group, including aircraft cleaning contracts with British Airways at London Heathrow and easyJet at London Luton and Edinburgh Airports, as well as winning for a further five years the ground handling contract with easyJet at its home hub in Luton.

What priorities did you have for your business when you first took over as CEO?

My main priority has been to ensure that we continue to deliver a safe, secure and premium service offering, to remain a partner of choice to our customers. That’s why I am driving a company-wide focus on customer engagement and operational discipline.

We want to recruit and retain the best teams across our network, and our focus on our people is absolutely key to the delivery of premium service.

The priority is to grow the business organically, although we will consider the right M&A [mergers and acquisitions] deals when the time is right and when both the financial impact and strategic logic are attractive.

Have you made a start on implementing these changes?

We’ve already implemented a cost efficiency programme, which will deliver significant benefits, and we have restructured the global commercial team with a focus on organic growth.

We have also launched a customer engagement programme to ensure we regularly communicate with our customers to keep their needs at the heart of all we do. Recent contract renewals have shown that this approach is already paying off.

Is the handling industry – and I am thinking particularly of ground handling – changing drastically? How will Menzies need or want to adapt as a result?

The modernisation of ground handling systems continues at pace. Industry standards have been notoriously legacy-based, and reliant on paper trails. Adopting technology and upgrading current systems is crucial to maintaining a competitive edge in both the ground handling and air cargo industries.

Ground handlers need to embrace technologies that drive the industry forward and deliver bottom-line benefits to customers.

Menzies deploys some of the most cutting-edge technologies in the sector, through our rostering, telematics, billing, safety and operational delivery systems. We implement these systems across the network to drive efficiencies and provide a premium, safe and secure service for our customers.

Elsewhere, what are going to be the focuses of your time looking forward over the coming months?

We will continue to develop our systems to innovate every aspect of our operations, and our commercial focus will be on winning new business as well as maintaining our excellent contract renewal rate.

We are looking to grow the footprint of all our service lines, including ground handling. We see clear opportunities to grow across the globe, and we will focus on both expanding our service offering across the existing network, as well as targeting new markets.

We are working on the full integration of [recently acquired handler] Airline Services into Menzies Aviation, which has enabled us to extend our product lines in the UK. The acquisition has given us the opportunity to strengthen our existing market position and expand our de-icing service offering to new and existing airline customers at a wider range of locations.

At its heart, Menzies is a people business. Developing our people and culture is crucial to our growth aspirations, and so we are focusing on recruiting and retaining the right people. We have a great HR [human resources] strategy in place to ensure we are investing in the future and development of our people, so that they can receive the training they need to deliver operational excellence around the world.