Arantza Ezpeleta, Global Executive Director of ACCIONA, says Australia is the perfect fit for foreign companies seeking to expand
The business opportunities offered by Australia to Spanish companies were the focus of the second Spain-Australia dialogue at SACF’s seminar. The expansion of Spanish companies into Australia is quite recent, but there are already 90 Spanish players operating in sectors such as industry, technology, renewable energies, infrastructure and consumer goods, and they are trusted for their safety and flexibility. “The aim of the session is to analyse how companies can leverage new opportunities by strengthening bilateral relations,” said Antonio Fernández-Martos, Director General for Trade and Investment at the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and moderator of the dialogue. At the seminar “there are various sectors, all of which are well-established and have a presence in Australia, represented at the table. The speakers’ experiences are very attractive for investors interested in the Australian market,” said Fernández-Martos.
Antonio Fernández-Martos gave the floor to Tim Beresford, Executive Director of the Australian Trade Commission, and asked him what Australia has to offer Spain. According to Beresford, the country is fully open to Spanish investment and offers some compelling advantages, such as a robust economy that has grown uninterrupted for 24 years and a great wealth of resources, both natural, technological and human: “Our professionals know how to do business and can help you settle in Australia.” Last but not least, there is the country’s proximity to Asia, which means it can function as a bridge to the continent, whose middle class is starting to show an interest in foreign food products, among others. Tim Beresford emphasised a whole host of opportunities which Australia holds for Spain.
Arantza Ezpeleta, Global Executive Director of ACCIONA, gave an overview of her company’s experience in the Australian market and briefly mentioned some of their projects in the country, including Legacy Way, which has been widely recognised by the industry. “Australia is a natural market for us, a place where we can add value and be competitive. Little by little we have managed to reduce the learning curve,” she said. Ezpeleta also talked about their partnership with local companies, with expertise and access to suppliers, which has proven to be the right strategy to expand in the country. Acciona’s objective is to keep operating in Australia in the long term: “It is a reliable country with legal stability and security and access to a highly skilled workforce, the perfect climate for any company.”
Grupo Alibérico was another company to participate in the seminar and was represented by its Chairman, Clemente González, who explained why they chose Australia to expand: “Many industrial companies choose to expand into cheaper countries, but we want to have a global portfolio with deliveries in one to two weeks and sales in 60 countries.” Through its Australian factory its manages to meet the deadlines it was seeking, whilst previously it used to sell through a distributor and take up to three months to deliver. With this new set-up, "we can compete with cheaper Asian companies,” he said. It also boasts the ‘Made in Australia’ seal, a highly valued accreditation, in addition to its swift, efficient service.
According to Juan Socías, Head of Institutional Relations at technology multinational Indra, the challenge to operate in Australia lies more in the lack of market acumen than in legal limitations. While all other companies looked solely to Latin America, Indra also chose to bet on Australia through outsourcing and learned how to negotiate contracts with the Government, which to Socías’ mind was a wise move: “Australia is expensive and complex, but predictable. If you fulfil all the requirements, projects always go ahead,” he emphasised. He went on to add that the market is highly regulated, but also quite open. Within the company’s international strategy, Australia is one of the best countries in which to operate, he said.
Freixenet, the world’s largest sparkling white wine producer, had sold its wines in Australia long before it decided to set up operations there. According to Diego Jiménez, Head of Spain at the group, it is not hard to get a license to operate in Australia, but he agreed with the rest of participants in the Dialogue about the importance of working with local legal experts “since the regulations are quite complex.” To him, the challenge lies in meticulous organisation designed to manage logistics cost overruns efficiently. Another challenge is reaching the client, although in his sector they have a natural ally: “Luckily, Spanish food is quite popular in Australia. Aussies are very open-minded consumers and big fans of Mediterranean products, which they perceive as great quality.” As stated by Diego Jiménez, the market is demanding, values good products and is willing to pay for them, which means there are many opportunities for Spanish companies there.