ENGIE Entreprises et Collectivités is a gas and electricity supplier. With a portfolio of 63,000 customers, this ENGIE subsidiary has chosen Allianz Trade to protect its customer accounts against the risk of non-payment. This choice is largely motivated by the search for a partner of scale and trust to cope with the recent increase in payment incidents. Pierre Jossier, Financial Director of ENGIE Entreprises et Collectivités, tells us more.
Can you describe ENGIE Entreprises et Collectivités?
ENGIE Entreprises et Collectivités is a leading B2B energy supplier and advisor in France. We provide customized services to our clients, helping them optimize their energy budgets, reduce their consumption, and lower their carbon emissions. Our solutions include biomethane and green electricity, enabling our clients to make sustainable choices for their energy needs.
We have a portfolio of 60,000 clients, supplying 700,000 sites with natural gas, electricity, direct electricity purchase contracts, and biomethane. Our annual revenue exceeds 10 billion euros. As a leading supplier and advisor, we not only provide energy to our clients, but also offer comprehensive support to reduce their energy consumption and assist them in their decarbonization process. Our technical expertise is a real advantage that sets us apart from our competitors.
Currently, what are your challenges regarding customer credit?
The energy sector has been shaken in recent months by major geopolitical events. An energy bill that was worth 100 euros in 2022 can now be up to 300 euros for our customers. Energy expenses weigh more heavily on their cash flow than before, and some of them may struggle to meet their deadlines. It is a real wake-up call for our customers! Therefore, with the resurgence of the risk of non-payment, we must more than ever be very vigilant regarding the knowledge and monitoring of our customers in order to better support them. Managing the customer credit becomes, if it wasn't already, an essential element of our strategic thinking.
How is your company organized to manage the accounts receivable?
Until this year, we were divided into two departments: one focused on customer selection and contract conditions, and another focused on invoicing, reminders, and collection. However, this year, we decided to merge these two departments into a single Credit Management division. This centralized approach has allowed us to increase operational efficiency, with approximately twenty dedicated professionals managing ENGIE Enterprises et Collectivités' accounts receivable. In addition to this restructuring, we have also decided to obtain credit insurance from Allianz Trade. This allows us to further secure our order-to-cash process, from evaluating the solvency of our customers to receiving payments, with the support of a credit expert.
How long have you been insured for credit?
We have been insured for credit for a year now. It is brand new for us: before, we mainly relied on our teams to ensure the protection of our cash flow, with occasional recourse to guarantees. For the past year, we have been constantly in communication with Allianz Trade to ensure that their credit insurance solution perfectly fits our needs. Our discussions are fruitful, regular, and as a result, we have decided to extend our contract with them. Credit insurance is now a tool that is present at every stage of our credit management policy and our customer journey. Even our sales teams, who are integral to our customer credit process, feel the added value of credit insurance to our organization.
Why did we choose a credit insurance solution?
Why did we choose a credit insurance solution? We anticipated the paradigm shift in the energy market and wanted to strengthen the protection of our cash flow to face it. Our business is selling energy. Assessing the solvency of companies is the job of credit insurers. Therefore, in this context, it seemed important for us to find a partner who complements our expertise to be prepared for any eventuality, all before the situation becomes tense in the market.
Why did you choose Allianz Trade?
ENGIE Entreprises et Collectivités is a leader in its market, so it was essential for us to be supported by a large company, itself at the forefront of its sector of activity. We also wanted an international player who would be able to support other ENGIE group subsidiaries in the future. Having Allianz Trade by our side is a guarantee of quality and security.
What benefits do you derive from your credit insurance solution?
The first benefit is very concrete: it is security. The impact on our cash flow is direct, we are now better protected against the risk of non-payment than we were a year ago. Additionally, thanks to Allianz Trade, we have better monitoring and a clearer view of our customer portfolio: we have access to numerous indicators that allow us to better evaluate the creditworthiness of our customers and its evolution. We have gained maturity in terms of prevention. Furthermore, being credit insured pushes us to increase our operational efficiency: if we want to make the most of our credit insurance policy, it is better to be meticulous, as it is a rather specific tool. In this sense, I would really describe credit insurance as a driver of operational excellence.
How would you define Allianz Trade's support?
With Allianz Trade, we are truly in a partnership logic. As I mentioned, we regularly exchange to evolve the contract to best fit our needs. And we have interlocutors who are not afraid to move things in that direction. This is essential for us to have a partner who is ready to accompany us and accept the specificities of our industry. This is what makes the difference between a good and a bad partner. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that Allianz Trade's expertise is a significant advantage. Your in-depth knowledge of the French economic fabric is very useful for us to anticipate trends and adapt accordingly. We feel that we have a reliable and flexible expert by our side.
What do you consider to be the strengths of Allianz Trade?
Firstly, your flexibility: there have been numerous discussions and developments, and it has never seemed to be a problem for you. Secondly, your size: you are a major partner, a recognized player, and it is reassuring for us to have you by our side. And finally, your partnership approach: we don't feel like we are working with a service provider, but with a company that truly wants to support us.