minutes de lecture

"We have switched to a more diversified transit model" - Hervé Sergeraert (Petzl)

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Every month, OVRSEA meets with its shipper customers to discuss the latest freight and logistics news and future challenges. This week, we meet with Hervé Sergeraert, Supply Chain Director of Petzl, a French group that is one of the world leaders in mountaineering, climbing and caving equipment. How is Petzl adapting and changing as it aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030? Interview.

Hello Hervé. Can you introduce yourself and Petzl?

After more than 20 years at Bosch, I joined the Petzl group in 2015, where I have held the position of program director and then supply chain director since 2020. Petzl is a family-owned company based in Crolles, near Grenoble, France, specializing in solutions for users to progress in vertical or obscure environments in complete safety. Our products are distributed both for leisure (climbing, mountaineering, canyoning, etc.) and for professionals.

What are Petzl's particularities in terms of logistics?

We have upstream flows that concern Asia, with a central point in Malaysia where we have a factory and a logistics platform, which then allows us to distribute to two downstream platforms: one in Crolles, in the Isère region, and the other one in the United States. We also have three plants in France, with a flow from our French platform to Salt Lake City. Finally, we have one last logistics platform in Sweden for the Scandinavian market.

What has changed for you since 2020?

In 2019, our transportation world was perfectly set. We had a contract with a forwarder and it was humming along. In two years, everything has changed. In addition to prices, TTs have increased considerably: from 63 days to 100 days on average on Malaysia-USA or from 34 to 65 days between France and the US. All this has had a considerable impact on our stocks. TTs increased by 30 days means a month of floating stock coverage unavailable to customers. In addition, there were shortages of components and materials. All of this has led to questions about transport, in particular a switch to air transport, which has increased three or fourfold for us since the beginning of the crisis.

What did you do to cushion the blow?

In March 2020, I made the rather radical decision to make all purchase orders placed with our suppliers firm, in order to give them long-term commitment and visibility. At a time when everyone else was holding back, Petzl was committing! We've taken this approach from the beginning and it has helped us. In the spring of 2021, however, it proved insufficient in the face of new supply chain upheavals...

How are you approaching the end of the year in terms of transportation?

I see some stabilization on prices, TTs and container release times. To achieve this, we had to move away from a single forwarder model to a three forwarder or service company model. So our concerns now revolve more around our suppliers, hit by plant closures and shortages of raw materials.

Another particularity is that with my teams, we collaborate on Petzl's CSR approach, committed to reducing the carbon intensity of its activity by 50% by 2030. Knowing how to accelerate flows to avoid disruptions while limiting air transport is a complex task! It's all about trade-offs.

Will this environmental commitment result in profound logistical changes for Petzl?

Yes, we are going to build a network of distribution platforms as close as possible to our customers. This is due to take shape in 2023 with the opening of a 3PL platform in China, which will enable us to reduce all our greenhouse gas emissions in China by 90%. But for the time being, the health crisis is making it difficult to travel to China... which doesn't make the task any easier!

How do you envision 2022?

I expect a complicated first half of 2022. The worst of the difficulties with component and material shortages are ahead of us. On shipping, there are a lot of signals that we may be past the peak, but I will remain very vigilant until Chinese New Year. But I don't think we will ever get back to the 2019 rate situation.

A word about The Merchant and the importance of being informed in such a context?

For me, it is one of the best newsletters on the subject, it manages to remain concise while giving information in line with my concerns. It also deals with alternatives, such as railways, which I have to be interested in for the opening of our future Chinese platform.