A new dimension - Trends-Tendances on PC

A new dimension – Trends-Tendances on PC

The Liège-based security company continues its strong growth, boosted by the takeover of SGI Security and Fact Security in 2019. The new ambition of Protection Unit? Really playing in the big leagues…

It is logically in the European district that Protection Unit announced, around a glass of champagne, the conclusion of a “historic” contract with the European Commission. For the occasion, an audience of journalists had been invited to discover the course of this Belgian security company which had hardly communicated so far. It is true that with this contract which will officially take effect on October 1st, the young company from Liège is entering a new dimension. It is now confronting the trio of multinational companies that have dominated the sector in Belgium for ages: Securitas, G4S and Seris.

It is logically in the European district that Protection Unit announced, around a glass of champagne, the conclusion of a “historic” contract with the European Commission. For the occasion, an audience of journalists had been invited to discover the course of this Belgian security company which had hardly communicated so far. It is true that with this contract which will officially take effect on October 1st, the young company from Liège is entering a new dimension. It is now confronting the trio of multinational companies that have dominated the sector in Belgium for ages: Securitas, G4S and Seris. The figures provided by Protection Unit bear witness to the scale of this public market which, according to the company’s officials, would be not only the largest in Belgium but also in Europe, at least for a single lot. “This contract represents 286 million euros spread over six years, confides Nicolas van Ysendyck, commercial director. It concerns a total of 70 buildings to be secured and controlled in the Brussels Region. In terms of staff, 1,100 agents are We now have more than 3,000 employees for more than a thousand active customers and are aiming for a record turnover of 160 million euros in 2023.” The awarding of this public contract also offers the Belgian company increased visibility. “This is the first time that a Belgian company has won a contract of this magnitude, intervenes Nicolas De Angelis, CEO BeLux of Protection Unit. To be able to respond to the call for tenders, we had to prove that we had the backbone strong and had the skills. What allowed us to win this contract was the way in which we approached the needs of the client, who had placed more emphasis on quality than on price. This success will to further develop certain markets such as embassies, for example. Moreover, this will also reassure future customers, particularly in public institutions. Finally, the impact around this contract, thanks to the aura of the European Commission, will contribute to increasing our notoriety on the Flemish market where we are currently still not very active, and more widely internationally.” In order to provide the multiple services requested by the European Commission (access control for people and vehicles in buildings, visitor support, security rounds, etc.), Protection Unit will first rely on the 1,100 agents of the previous provider, G4S. They master the procedures and many of them have solid experience. “These agents have the choice, they can either sign a permanent contract with us or decide to leave, explains the CEO. But we are relatively confident: we think that a large part of them will stay, especially since they is a prestigious shipyard.” Going forward, the Protection Unit will rely on its current resources as well as on new collaborators. Like the rest of the security sector, the company continues to recruit, and has done so for years. Recruitment is also the main challenge to be met in the future. “We are not evolving in a sector in shortage but in difficulty, tempers Nicolas De Angelis. We are in constant search of agents. For the candidates – we have between 15 and 20% of women -, it is enough to have a clean criminal record.We provide training which lasts 160 hours.More broadly, all of our agents benefit from continuous training in order to guarantee the quality of our services both from a human and technological point of view. contract with the European Commission, it is not necessary to be bilingual, but it is clear that knowledge of languages ​​is an asset… I would add that the image of our sector has evolved considerably, and our profession offers a very varied range of missions. We are therefore very present in places and events frequented by young people, such as festivals and football stadiums.” Without being the one of the century, this contract won by Protection Unit marks an important step in the progression of the company. Founded by Samuel Di Giovanni in 2009 in Liège, this structure experienced steady but essentially local development in its early years. It did so first through internal growth, supported in particular by the launch of new departments (for example a unit of dogs trained in the detection of explosive substances) but also through the acquisition of other security companies such as Topguard in 2017 in Antwerp and Sure Security in Lanaken in 2018. In 2019, change of gear: as part of its development strategy, Protection Unit takes over the activities of the company SGI Security, active for 30 years and strongly established in the Brussels Region with services complementary to its own. A takeover that allows it to join the top five Belgian security companies, with nearly 500 agents. At the end of 2019, a new acquisition: Protection Unit acquires the number four in the sector and the first in Belgium, Fact Security. Based in Limal, this company recorded notable growth in the second half of the 2010s, which in 2017 even earned it the title of Gazelles ambassador for medium-sized enterprises in Walloon Brabant. With this takeover, Protection Unit considerably widens its playing field throughout Wallonia as well as in Brussels, but also accumulates increasingly important missions. For example, that for Liège airport or the Port of Brussels in 2020. Contracts that it won, for the most part, from the three major players in the sector. As a result, Protection Unit is today competing for third place on the Belgian podium with the French Seris. Podium whose first two steps are occupied by the Swedish Securitas and the British G4S. “In total, the security market in Belgium represents approximately 20,000 jobs, specifies Nicolas van Ysendyck. But thanks to this contract with the Commission, we now represent 15% in terms of employees.” Already firmly established in Belgium and Luxembourg (it recently signed a four-year contract to provide protection for European Council meetings in the Grand Duchy), the young company is eyeing France, where the potential for development seems promising, if only with the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. The organization of such an event will indeed require many means of security in order to ensure its smooth running. More broadly, for many institutions and companies, security has become a real priority. Above all, since the attacks that mourned Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016. “After these tragic events, we observed an increased demand for security, analyzes Nicolas De Angelis. It is not uncommon today that we are requires the presence of an agent for a private party, for example. Our sector was also required to show reactivity during the recent health crisis where we intervened in particular in supermarkets. Moreover, the threats have continued to take new forms, no longer limited to classic guarding as the public imagines it. Just think of cyberattacks or the criminal use of drones. Today, agents must therefore no longer “only” respond to possible problems, but anticipate them in order to prevent them from ending up threatening the integrity of people and buildings. These are all realities that explain the regular and uninterrupted growth of the security market in the broad sense, which is more than ever asserting itself as a sector of the future, offering in passing opportunities to profiles without qualifications.

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