TourMaG – Why did you decide to run for the post of administrator of the APST?
Laurent Abitbol : I recognize that the APST is a subject that I did not know in depth. It was only after Thomas Cook filed for bankruptcy that I became aware of its importance. The APST has been well maintained and I pay tribute to the work done by Alix Philipon (its president, editor’s note) who has had to deal with more than two years of enormous crisis. In my opinion, the problem is not the APST but it is the rules governing the guarantee fund and European laws. My first duty will be to ensure that European laws are changed. There is no reason to guarantee a 100% consumer. I bought a kitchen 6 months ago, I put down €2,000, unfortunately my kitchen designer filed for bankruptcy. I lost €2,000… I was not entitled to the APST for kitchen designers. The average of files in France is 800 €, with the 25% deposit it is 200 €. A client may lose €200 because the agency files for bankruptcy. On the other hand, €200 multiplied by thousands of customers is a risk for the APST. The client must have the same risk and in other professions it is already like that. That the travel guarantee is unlimited: there really is a problem, that does not mean anything. The APST suffers and it is European law that needs to be changed. We cannot defend the consumer indefinitely, it is unique for this profession. And if I am elected, that will be my fight. I have already started with some political friends who did not know this specificity. I will go very far.
“The small member must be taken into account more”
TourMaG – European time is not that of companies. How to move Europe quickly? Laurent Abitbol: We have to lobby and it could be quick if we talk to the right people and put the resources into it. Lobbying costs money. If we fix this problem, we fix the APST problem.
TourMaG – To carry out “this fight” as you say, do you want to run for the post of president? Laurent Abitbol: No, I want to be elected to the board. I think I’m already pretty overwhelmed.
TourMaG – When there is a failure, and even more so with that of Thomas Cook, members have the impression of paying for the “big guys” or for those who manage their business badly. How to solve the problem ? Laurent Abitbol: The APST is sometimes forced to be tough with its members because of these European laws. And there is one thing that bothers me today – and there it is also my role as president of Selectour – it is that we cannot ask members who run their business to put their house on bail, or their personal property. It is not wise.
TourMaG – What would be the solution for counter-guarantees? Laurent Abitbol: It is a problem. We would have to find a cooperative bank that accepts this. That entrepreneurial couples have to put security on a house they have saved up for is not acceptable. And when there is a drama in life, like covid? They lose everything? We have to find solutions, and one of the solutions is once again Europe. The small member must be taken into account more.
“Today getting fat is no longer possible”
TourMaG – And for larger players what is the problem? The APST has renegotiated with some major players in the sector, including you? Laurent Abitbol: Indeed I had a big negotiation with the APST, I had “times 3” that I accepted yet my box is not at risk: huge cash and profits in 2021. And then today gaining weight is no longer possible. And that is always because of Europe. When the company grows, it has greater guarantees. So the current laws prevent the evolution of our businesses because of the guarantees required. It is not normal. We have to find another system and we will find it. Once again, for me, we cannot guarantee the consumer 100%.
TourMaG – What do you think of the status changes. Was this necessary? Laurent Abitbol: It’s not perfect, but it’s better than before.
TourMaG – Are you worried about the delay in the file for the public reinsurance?
Laurent Abitbol: Public reinsurance will help a lot. I remain confident. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne promised us, it will happen.
“There is a balance to be found between solidarity and not having a disaster”
TourMaG – How to monitor companies at risk and prevent risks? Laurent Abitbol: The APST must check the balance sheets once or twice a year. But it’s still very complicated. The concept of risk is complex. Today the balance sheets are bad since we have gone through a crisis. There is a balance to be found between solidarity and not having a disaster. This is what we do within the Selectour cooperative. We try to find a balance with the board of directors, between not being too hard and not having too much risk. It’s a constant juggling. And my job with Jean-Noël Lefeuvre (General Manager of the Selectour network, editor’s note) is that one. We have a board meeting almost every two weeks for this: we study the accounts and see where we stand. So far we are not bad. But we have to watch out for any risk. 70% of the job is risk management and 30% is contract management. The balance is to find between the cooperative and the risk so that the members do not suffer the bankruptcy of another.
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APST elections: why does Adriana Minchella (Cediv) want to run again?
Posted by Celine Eymery
Chief Editor – TourMaG.com
See all articles by Céline Eymery