Originally centred on its river services along the Seine corridor, Fluviofeeder Armement (FFA) recently expanded its operations to include warehousing and handling through the acquisition of SOMAP in 2017. In May, 2018, the company passed another milestone, with Marfret’s decision to transfer all its multimodal business to its Gennevilliers-based subsidiary. With river transport of bulk loads and containers, warehousing –including dangerous goods- in Rouen and, in the near future, a rail shuttle service for containers and swap bodies serving Paris, FFA is well on the way to becoming an integrator.
Exactly ten years after its founding, Fluviofeeder Armement, or FFA as it’s known, has undergone a strategic remodelling over the past few months thanks to an enlarging of its scope of operations. In May 2018, with a view to ensuring coherence and neutrality with regard to its clients, Marfret handed over to it all its multimodal, warehousing and logistics activities.
“Separating the activities avoids any confusion and shippers appreciate our multimodal services,” explains line manager Xavier Rose, in charge of container operations at Rouen.
FFA began its transformation in 2017, with its purchase of the Société d’Organisation de Manutention et d’Activités Portuaires (SOMAP) from Sealogis. This expansion brought with it five dockside warehouses with rail connections -enough to nurture new ambitions!
Boosted by this acquisition, over the next few months FFA completely revamped its multimodal chain in Normandy, offering value-added services to clients using the ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Gennevilliers. In Rouen, Fluviofeeder provides services that other ports cannot and goes even further by designing new “routes” and services for its clients. “Rouen will be able to provide what no other terminal can,” says Rose.
Set up in 2008, Fluviofeeder Armement started out with a small team, building and manning self-propelled and unpowered barges. It was Marfret who operated the regular lines and charters, carrying bulk cargoes, containers and heavy-lift consignments. Since 2012, the sea-going vessel Lydia has been used to provide an important thrice-weekly, round-trip service between Le Havre and Rouen, with a second vessel completing the Rouen-Gennevilliers leg on a twice-weekly basis.
To fulfil its Fluveo contract commitments, FFA has built four self-propelled 45-metre barges, which operate between Gennevilliers and Précy-sur-Marne. Again, the service was operated by Marfret up until last May. With the new set-up, Fluviofeeder Armement now employs around 30 staff, including 15 bargees.
Presently, Marfret intends concentrating on its core business operating regular deep and short-sea shipping services.
FFA reshuffles Rouen logistics cards with new warehousing strategy
Traditionally, SOMAP’s groupage warehousing services were export-oriented, but with the gradual decline of shipping line port calls at Rouen, the future for this business is uncertain. The phenomenon can only worsen, with many of the major forwarders also leaving the port. Xavier Rose adds, “We need to prepare for this change and provide Rouen with new prospects and new energy. With its established service between Rouen and Le Havre, Fluviofeeder has made Rouen its logistics hub, providing a wide range of services such as on-demand warehousing, gas measurement for containers and container repairs.” The five warehouses, each covering between 4000 and 5000m², have found a new lease of life as overflow storage space for the company’s clients. For example, since the purchase of Tati, Gifi has been reallocating stock among its stores in Paris and Normandy and is using one of the five warehouses for reverse logistics.
“We need to move from being a terminal warehouse to a distribution warehouse for mass storage. To do this, we have come up with a low-cost, overflow offer for logistics companies, primarily for import traffics. At the same time, we need to provide the port with a new generation of bonded distribution warehouses for wholesalers to store goods prior to their release onto the retail market,” says Xavier Rose. In fact FFA has already applied to French customs to become an authorized economic operator (AEO).
SOMAP has a staff of 39, of which 35 are dockers.