How Bolloré Logistics is supporting the growth of supply chains and manufacturing in Vietnam
Bolloré Logistics, with its headquarters in Puteaux, France, has been active in Vietnam since 1989. It has since firmly made its mark in the country, serving some of the most high-profile brands in the world and providing the keys to managing the supply chains of its customers in this dynamic high growth market. With over 30 years of experience up his sleeve, gained mostly in Asia, Managing Director Marc Moeschlin has sat at the helm of Bolloré Logistics Vietnam for the last two years with a desire to take advantage of a thriving industry.
Marc Moeschlin started working in logistics in Switzerland in 1986 for a medium-sized international German Logistics company, immediately after completing his degree at EPCI/ESSEC Business School in France. Overcome with a desire to travel and discover Asia, he took a year off to fly to Hong Kong and travel throughout China and across the world before returning to the same company he first worked at – this time based in Singapore – in 1990.
Thus began a career of management-level freight forwarding and supply chain roles in various Southeast Asian countries, building up a wealth of experience before joining Bolloré Logistics two years ago. As Managing Director, Moeschlin oversees all activities in Vietnam, freight, warehouse and logistics, projects, supply chain management, covering the full pallet of services provided by the company.
“It’s an interesting role in an exciting country,” says Moeschlin, and what makes Vietnam so thrilling for Bolloré Logistics is its fast-growing market on both the export and import side.
“We are present in Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City; but the latter - formerly named Saigon - is the biggest city and also where our head office is located,” Moeschlin explains. “The challenge in this country is to take full advantage of the growth happening. Vietnam is experiencing over 6.5% GDP growth right now, and looking at the still growing foreign investment, these growth levels are here to stay for several years to come. We’re benefitting from an increased demand in the footwear and clothing sector, which has been transferring a lot of orders from China, and the high tech and telecom sectors have seen major manufacturing investments, especially in the north of Vietnam where one of the biggest mobile phone factories in the world is located.
“Also, we have a growing middle class here in Vietnam, increasingly wanting to source and buy international brands,” he adds. “Earlier entries like Zara and more recent entries like H&M are getting a lot of attraction here, due to Vietnamese women having an increasingly high rate of employment and therefore their own buying power. Luxury is also a great sector for us to develop as the market in Vietnam grows.
“A challenge here is the development of new airport infrastructure,” Moeschlin continues. “Ho Chi Minh City is actually building a new airport for 2025, but the question remains on how we will manage the cargo volume growth at the existing airport until then.”
How, indeed, when the local market is thriving to such an extent? Online shopping is a constantly-flourishing industry in Vietnam. More and more, consumers are opting to buy via their personal devices, meaning a huge surge in e-commerce; which generates increased domestic and international cross-border flows.
“We are seeing the business model changing rapidly because of this, and we’re tailoring our offer to support this industry as much as we can,” says Moeschlin. “Thanks to our logistics hub in Singapore, we can serve the region, including Vietnam. Alongside this, we work with strategic partners who can provide the last-mile delivery service so that we can offer a country wide end-to-end service.”
Besides e-commerce, Vietnam offers a wide range of opportunities. On the manufacturing side, Vietnam has become a good addition to China, and businesses have begun to realise that the balance is shifting, creating opportunities for Vietnam. This is further enhanced by various Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that Vietnam has signed or is on the verge to implement.
Being a leader on the France-Vietnam trade lane and ranking in the top 5 logistics companies in Europe – one key trade where Bolloré Logistics has some major advantages is between Vietnam and Africa. Vietnamese telecom companies have successfully sold their network equipment and technology to some countries on the continent, and there has been a great deal of soft commodity business between Africa and Vietnam; in which Bolloré Logistics already plays a major role in Africa, thanks to its leading market position there.
“We see Africa becoming more of a consumer nation in the future,” says Moeschlin. “Mobile phones, footwear and garments especially are growing markets there and commodities like cashew nuts and cotton are moving in increasing volumes.”
With an unmatched network in Africa, Bolloré Logistics is in a good position to let its customers in Vietnam leverage and develop trade sustainably, with full visibility and control from end-to-end – even to landlocked countries. However, as Moeschlin explains, partnerships begin within the business.
“In order to satisfy our customers, our key partners are actually our staff,” he says. “It’s essential for us to have a stable and well-educated work force in a high growth market such as Vietnam. Bolloré Logistics is a family-owned business, and we are bringing that family spirit down through every level of the business. This unique DNA and the efforts put into staff development ensure that we have quite a low staff turnover compared to the rest of the market, allowing a consistently good quality of service, which is a strong point in satisfying our customers.”
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Bolloré Logistics Vietnam offers extensive training and development possibilities to its staff - the company holds an edge in the sense that it is a pioneer. It was the first international logistics organisation to receive the license to operate in Vietnam, and the ongoing success story of Bolloré Logistics is something which attracts the needed talents in this competitive market. The business is also doing its part to fill the skills gap by partnering with education services and developing a work-study programme in which students can work towards their degree by also spending time in the workplace.
The company does, of course, keep local partners close as well, and due to its status, Bolloré Logistics is able to pick and choose precisely which companies have the quality processes and standards it demands.
“We have to actively coach them and bring them up to standard, which we are doing with a very active vendor management program. That enables us to provide the kinds of service our international customers are expecting,” says Moeschlin.
To support its strong partner relationships, technology is also a key enabler. For one particular aerospace customer, the company applied a solution called Link Mobile for item tracking whereby the recipient of the cargo signs on the trucking partner’s mobile device. This proof of delivery (POD) is instantly uploaded and visible in the corresponding tracking and tracing application.
Similarly, other customers are making use of Bolloré Logistics’ e-booking tool, reducing data input. While these may be small steps, they make a big difference in terms of business efficiency. Moeschlin and his team are working towards a more integrated way of working, with algorithm-based decision-making becoming the norm for the Bolloré Logistics Vietnam operators to make the best choices for the customers, optimising their experience.
“The intention is to make this data much more useable and better in predicting where the capacity will have to be and where prices will go in the future,” he explains. “We very often take a bet on the future, and we need to be able to read the market better than the competitor.”
Bolloré Logistics also works hard on innovation with the B. Lab – an innovation community within Bolloré Logistics that aims to create new products, services and processes that tie into the digital revolution. Its responsibility as a company also encompasses social and societal aspects by integrating the expectations of stakeholders and playing its part in developing the local economy. In terms of sustainability, for example, Bolloré Logistics is able to provide details of a customer’s CO2 emissions based on shipment data, enabling them to see their impact on the environment and adjust accordingly. Bolloré Logistics Vietnam has several corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in place locally, and recently supported local communities by donating its old IT equipment to a non-governmental organisation training underprivileged students in Danang.
Bolloré Logistics Vietnam’s consideration for CSR is part of what makes the business unique, and the future looks brighter than ever for Moeschlin and his team.