Barcelona Activa's advice helped Altaïr's business to improve
- The Business Support Office, a major service for Barcelona SMEs and companies, aims to provide support and improve the economy of the city's business sector.
Travelling as a way of seeing the world. Through reading or on the ground, step by step. Pep Bernadas, an anthropologist and co-founder of Altaïr, explains that the bookshop, the publishing company and the travel agency, under the name of a company that will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary, all work to the same end: explaining the world, providing information and suggesting trips to really get to know everything about a destination. Altaïr is a leading light for people who like travelling and discovering other cultures. In 2017, the winds are favourable, quite unlike those that were blowing four years ago.
In 2013, the whiplash of the economic crisis forced Altaïr to take decisions, to reduce costs. One of the consequences was to stop printing its magazine on paper, reducing the number of editions. Bernadas went to Barcelona Activa's Business Support Office for advice. "We needed an outsider's perspective, someone trained in financial matters, to take a look at the business and make an analysis" he explains.
The study performed by the Barcelona City Council agency made it possible for him to go to the Catalan Institute of Finance with a proposal for capitalising his business and obtaining a loan, so that Altaïr was able to continue its journey.
The financial report exposed critical business-management factors. For example, the management of the stock of publications. Out of a total of 100,000 titles, 60,000 "were still going strong" affirmed Bernadas, leading the company to focus on the ones that were in demand. This is just one example. Four years later, he is thinking of placing the company in the hands of the same Barcelona Activa specialists who advised him last time, for an even more detailed financial analysis, in order to face new challenges. He would even like to suggest working together with other municipal departments on new projects that would be mutually beneficial, a "win-win" situation. An idea where everybody wins, through culture.
Bernadas is full of ideas. He's a good talker, about everything from travelling to anything that concerns people's capacity for learning from everything, and he explains details of a recent investment: “We're working on creating audiences. I have another suggestion. Investing in time". He knows, with the financial data at hand, how 25 to 35-year-olds are becoming increasingly interested in the services that Altaïr can offer them.
Altaïr is printing its magazine again with monographs and new ideas for the digital world, where it has regained lost ground, and in print. Bernadas shows us the editions on Dakar and the Faroe Islands with a certain amount of pride. With articles by people who live there and know their country.
A commercial agreement with the government of Hong Kong has allowed the magazine to print a monograph that "offers another view" of the city and its area of influence, while respecting Altaïr's editorial criteria, as Bernadas points out; a formula that ensures the publication's credibility.
"Obsessing about your balance sheet is not the best way to go" affirms Bernadas, who says that the 5.6% growth in turnover in 2016 is a good sign of recuperation, as is the first six months of this year, with further increases. "The slow months for tourism work too!" he exclaims.
But Altaïr doesn't just live from books, magazines and organising trips. The bookshop itself has also become a meeting point for readers and travellers with a wide range of interests. The bookshop organises activities every week, from presenting a book to developing a more academic activity, a talk. Investing in audiences
The shop on Gran Via will soon include the services of the Orixà agency. So, there will be a bookshop, publishing company and agency in the same place, joining forces and resources to create new activities "always supporting one another" says Bernadas.