Samskip wants to offer a one-stop-shop for its customers across its European multimodal network, explains its chief commercial officer Jérôme Feuvrier
European logistics operator Samskip is focusing on integration and interaction with customers following a series of acquisitions.
These include acquiring shipping and transport businesses Nor Lines in 2017, Euro Container Line and German logistics company Züst & Bachmeier in 2016.
Samskip chief commercial officer Jérôme Feuvrier told Container Shipping & Trade “The acquisitions have augmented our pan-European modern network. This is a strength that we need to build on by being a more integrated company than we are today.”
He explains that the acquisitions have brought different systems and processes with them. “We are in the process of aligning them to interact with customers in an integrated way and offer them a one-stop-shop across the network. Transforming the assets we have allows us to truly differentiate ourselves in the market.”
He says “The first thing is integrating all the functions, so there are not different trade teams working independently; rather, all trades merge into one single organisation. This does not always mean in one place but under one management and one process.”
This involves moving from varied legacy systems to one core system called My Samskip. Mr Feuvrier says “This involves managing booked orders in a central way so the flow of service and information across the whole organisation is in one system developed inhouse. This brings us a totally integrated approach to customers.”
My Samskip allows customers to place bookings directly through the website or through an EDI.
Comparing this to the previous system and explaining how the new system is more efficient, he says “Using different booking systems for train, truck and sea required a lot of manual input, but the new integrated system manages any aspect of the intermodal operation. It will have full visibility of the intermodal connections with trucks, barges and future vessel connections at the time of booking. We can provide a compilation of information to customers from different systems.”
Mr Feuvrier says the company is implementing this trade by trade and that by September the goal is that customers wishing to use the system will be up and running. Ultimately, the aim is for customers to use the integrated system to make online bookings.
He comments “A vessel is a vessel, and anybody can invest in a network of vessels; the difference is how we manage it and communicate with customers if there is any issue. In intermodal, for example, sometimes the weather can have an impact. We can make a difference by being transparent with customers, so investing in systems and the way we interact is a clear point of differentiation versus anybody with similar trains, vessels or barges.”
The company owns 15 container feeder vessels, but also has slot arrangements on a wide variety of other ships. Asked about the low sulphur cap of January 2020, Mr Feuvrier notes that Samskip has already switched to using distillates where vessels operate in existing emissions control areas, but adds “It will have an impact. We will probably have to deal with an increase in costs [due to dealing with low sulphur oil] and as much as we are working to improve productivity, some of these costs will have to be passed to market, and we are getting ready for that.”
Aside from the sulphur cap, another challenge is Brexit. The company has launched new routes between the UK and European ports to derisk. “We have drastically improved the UK product and enhanced services,” says Mr Feuvrier.
For example, services connecting to the UK can now use three points of departure across Benelux ports (Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Ghent) “which gives a lot more flexibility to operations and customers, so we consider in this Brexit period that this is a derisking approach, a multiple approach providing different options”.
He adds that a major concern is ensuring services are available for customers once the UK leaves the EU. Samskip is making sure it has the capacity for regular volumes by charging a surcharge for additional requests. Mr Feuvrier says: “We have started this surcharge to ensure we are not affected by short-term requests from the market so as to protect our business. We have seen a huge increase in demand in previous weeks and have been engaging with customers about what to do upfront and later.
“This approach means we can manage flow in a smoother way, rather than reacting to last-minute demands… we are trying to engage with customers on this and we have to be realistic, whatever happens we stick to this approach.”
An important part of the company’s strategy is its terminal in Duisburg. The terminal is at the heart of Samskip’s network. There is spare capacity at the Duisburg terminal, so Samskip is looking to leverage its network to the maximum extent by offering opportunities to other contractors. Samskip sees significant potential for more trucks to be taken off the road and transferred to barges that connect to the vessel hub at Duisburg.
Mr Feuvrier comments “As a multimodal company, anything that we can get off the road is important to us; it is a cross selling point due to lower costs and CO2 impact. This is important as more and more big corporations are seeing their shareholders ask for information on the fuel footprint.”
Snapshot CV: Jérôme Feuvrier (Samskip)
Jérôme Feuvrier joined Samskip as chief commercial officer in May 2018, focusing on sales, marketing and customer service. He heads a team of over 150 professionals tasked with implementing an integrated sales and marketing approach to better leverage the pan-European Samskip multimodal network and drive organic growth.
Before joining Samskip, previous positions include 14 years with Ansell Protective Solutions.
Mr Feuvrier holds a degree in international marketing from Fédération Européenne Des Ecoles and a Masters in International Management from ISEG, Toulouse.