Their excellent brand image is a big asset for Protos. The Spanish winery, located in Peñafiel (near Valladolid), was the first wine cellar in the Ribera del Duero region to be open with a purely commercial vocation. Hence the name, Protos, which means “first” in Greek. This was in 1927 and since then, the company has become a reference for prestige. The American magazine “Wine & Spirits”, one of the most recognised in the industry, has crowned Protos “2013 Winery of the Year”; Superbrands, the international body, has been awarded them the “Mark of Excellence”, the same level as Coca-Cola, Bayer or the FC Barcelona. The breathtaking extension of the winery, an avant-garde architectural project designed by the architectural practice Richard Rogers welcomes some 30,000 visitors annually and the turnover exceeds personal records, even in recession times.
When Expense Reduction Analysts contacted the company, Protos had just ended the financial year with a turnover of 28,6 million Euros and a net profit of 6,28 million Euros. “We are working at a high level and cannot afford any false steps” says Carlos Villar, Managing Director at Protos.
Over the past two years, the company has been solicited by several consultancies but has always declined the offers. “We never chose any of them as we did not have much faith in the results. It’s really hard to save whilst maintaining quality” notes Villar. The first contact with Expense Reduction Analysts was in June 2013, and the collaboration started almost immediately. What had changed? “One of the best things that the consultant did was to get their clients to speak, and they gave us the best references.”
Thus the relationship between Protos and Expense Reduction Analysts started with the endorsement of other companies with which the consultancy had previously worked. “Protos requested us to provide some references, which proved essential to build the necessary trust and launch the project”, confirms Carlos Aguilar, Partner at Expense Reduction Analysts and Client Manager for Bodegas Protos. “It was a good project, with savings far more important than was expected so we are now highly recommended”, he adds.
The most significant savings in projects already completed for other clients, as it would also be for the Peñafiel winery, was those made for the cork. “It is a very strategic account which has a direct impact on the product and an issue that we need to treat carefully in this case, as Protos produces wines of high quality” explains Aguilar.
Expense Reduction Analysts proposed a new mix of suppliers, changing the proportion of purchases from existing suppliers and introducing new ones. “At Protos, there are very strict quality requirements, as it is a key factor to them; however we managed to get an adjustment of prices thanks to our knowledge of the market, with on one hand the professional expertise of our team members, and on the other hand, our experience on recent Expense Reduction Analysts projects” says the consultant. The final savings for the winery could reach almost 200,000 Euros.
However the recommendations concerning the subject of cork are some that the technical team at Protos studies more closely to see how to implement them and at what speed. “I think there will be savings but we are required to work with great care, because corks, like barrels, are living materials that have a direct effect on the quality of the wine. If you get it wrong, you will see that in the medium term, when it is difficult to find a solution” says Villar.
Being able to choose the pace of implementation of the measures was and is very important to Protos. “Something that I have really appreciated in the collaboration with Expense Reduction Analysts is that the decision has always been ours and we have not, at any moment, felt pressured to do something or other”, says Villar. “Everyone wants to be more efficient, and at that moment in time, it is an obligation. Many of the solutions will be implemented over time however we want to be weighing every step. Our company is doing well right now and we can afford it. If we were not, we would maybe have to react more quickly”, he admits.
A clear opportunity: savings on energy
The recommendations for the category of energy will be the quickest and most direct to implement. The original Protos wine cellar was established 86 years ago at the foot of a hill, crowned by Peñafiel medieval castle. In order to install the ageing, the founders took advantage of the galleries carved out in the 15th century and have since further penetrated the mountain to complete two kilometres of underground galleries where the temperature, cool and stable, provides an ideal natural setting for the wines.
The new winery was inaugurated in 2008. The Richard Rogers architectural practice, Pritzker Architecture Prize, in associations with Alonso Balaguer Architects Associated, oversaw a much innovative design which received awards worldwide. The new building cost 36 million Euros and marked a leap forward for the company. The new equipment allows the control of the grapes’ ph, acidity or alcoholic strength during the entire process thanks to an infrared sensors system. In all logic, the production capacity has also increased. Protos markets today five and a half million bottles sold in 92 different countries.
The new building, which reinterprets the structure of a traditional wine cellar, reinforces Protos’ brand image but represents also an expenditure of 600,000 Euros for the winery. “It’s an honour to have this spectacular wine cathedral but our old structure was certainly far cheaper to maintain, whereas we now have security, electricity and cleaning costs that we did not have previously”, explains Villar.
With regards to the energy category, the team from Expense Reduction Analysts conducted a very thorough study of what equipment was used and what was the associated energy consumption.
“We adjusted the prices at which electricity was purchased, which was high, as well as the capacity, since the company had contracted more than was needed” says Aguilar. For a normal operating cycle in a winery, there are specific times when requirements are higher, but the company will gain by paying the energy at a set price most of the year, and more when there are consumption peaks. “It was a significant expenditure that was not managed in the best way” admits Villar. The Protos Managing Director highlights the fact that everyone gains from a well-managed project. “The advantage is twofold: Expense Reduction Analysts provides a solution for the company and the consultant is fed from these very savings”, says Villar.
“We were able to achieve a price adjustment thanks to our knowledge of the market. On one hand, through the expertise of our team members, and on the other hand, through the experience gained for previous projects” says Carlos Aguilar, Expense Reduction Analysts Client Manager for the Protos Winery project.
“One of the best things that Expense Reduction did was to let us talk to their clients, who provided us with the best references.”
Carlos Villar, Managing Director at Protos
|Transport (parcels and pallets)|
|Packaging (caps and corks)||15%|
|Packaging (cardboard boxes)||10%|