FFA injecting added value into its new multimodal business


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.

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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.

Fluviofeeder’s inland terminal at Rouen gaining momentum

When storage charges at Le Havre become prohibitive, the solution is to quickly transfer shipments via the FFA river shuttle for storage in Rouen. The FFA inland terminal enjoys a strategic location on the banks of the Seine close to both the A13 and A29 autoroutes and an industrial hinterland. It has today become a key partner for shippers/consignees, shipping companies and forwarders alike.

“The lack of transport capacity is going to increase with the boom in online commerce, so we need to come up with different transport solutions. And we need to offer other, innovative services. To this end, we have already factored in present requirements and are anticipating those of tomorrow,” explains Xavier Rose.

FFA now offers a combined transport and logistics solution via its terminal. Once the traffics have been identified, clients benefit from the “GatePriority” system for their import consignments. The list of containers is sent to FFA’s subsidiary SOMAP on the day prior to arrival so the containers can be loaded directly onto skeletals. Contrary to booking systems in other ports, GatePriority provides for a pre-set frequency.

Simplifying customs procedures for clients will be the next step for FFA, with the introduction of a temporary storage facility (TSF) at the Rouen terminal. Another major asset will be the terminal’s upper-tier Seveso classification, for which application is currently underway, allowing the on-site storage of dangerous goods For example, due to a lack of adequate storage facilities nearby, the Rouen-based lubricant additives company Lubrizol France ships via Antwerp. From now on, FFA will be able to provide a turnkey solution combining onward river transport from Le Havre and short-term storage on its Seveso site in Rouen.

“We have to act as an integrator for our clients’ logistics needs, while bringing added value to the entire chain. The terminal must evolve into a smart terminal if we are to stand out against the other terminals on the Seine corridor,” insists Rose. To this end, FFA is currently in negotiations with rail operators for a new rail shuttle service between Rouen and Paris Valenton/Bonneuil beginning in 2019. The service, initially weekly, will carry both containers and swap bodies (100TEU) on trains of around 850m in length, opening up new possibilities, including potential connections to the South of France, Germany and Italy.