The 2013/04/11 at 08:36
Bridgestone and Continental, two longstanding rivals, now stand hand in hand. The two companies recently began sharing the same warehouse, 42,000 square metres in size, in Mer (in the French department of Loir-et-Cher), to meet the tyre needs of their clients in the region. Their joint service provider, Deret Logistique, receives orders by computer, ascertains the transport solutions that need to be implemented, then dispatches the goods to points of sale. This example is emblematic of a deep-running trend towards the pooling of company space.
"This economical solution was already being studied three centuries ago, but it has only been in the last few years that concrete solutions have been introduced," observes Claude Samson, President of AFILOG, an association working towards the development of logistics in Europe.
FM Logistic underlines that this tendency is set to gradually expand to SMEs. When up to 7 industrial companies are grouped together to share a warehouse, as is the case of this service provider, repercussions, in terms of profitability, become extremely worthwhile. The seller of preserved pâtés, Hénaff, an SME from Brittany relying on some 200 employees, has also taken the plunge by using pooled logistical services.
According to Serge Rambault, President of Bretagne Supply Chain, an association created by the CCI Bretagne whose objective is to help the regional logistical community to improve its global performance and to anticipate evolutions in chains, "this is a strategic domain for companies that makes a difference. It is an undeniable competitiveness factor. The peripheral nature of Brittany means that our territory and its economic players need to be particularly efficient on this front. It is essential and urgent that the region's companies, and SMEs in particular, latch onto this domain."
Logistical costs account for between 5 and 15 % of company turnover. The Logistical Committee of the FEEF (Fédération des Entreprises et Entrepreneurs de France or Federation of Enterprises and Entrepreneurs in France) estimates that the pooling of flows can cut bills by around 10 %. "Several factors are going to have a heavy impact on logistical organisation in the future, such as the growth and globalisation of exchanges, the rise in fuel prices and highway toll rates, the development of e-business, the integration of sustainable development in company strategy," mentions Serge Rambault. Different levels of resource pooling exist.
Some services limit pooling to maintenance, surveillance and waste management – an intermediary solution that does not go as far as the sharing of warehouse, and that can be a first step in this direction until all lingering reservations disappear. Warehouse fees for services such as maintenance or caretaking represents 10 to 15 euros per square metre.
The regional scale is often described as more conducive to the introduction of pooling solutions as local industrial companies – even rivals – can be encouraged to feel that they are working towards defending a local dynamic, a specific regional identity. "Thanks to various events organised by our association, company heads have been able to meet logistics experts, visit efficient sites, discuss with other regional companies about domains where stakes are high, and participate in experimental projects," indicates Serge Rambault.
The trend also encompasses office space. In business incubator contexts, but not exclusively, companies no longer hesitate to lease out part of their premises in preferential conditions. "As our activity has shrunk and dematerialisation has taken off, a large proportion of our surface area has become useless. We have therefore put these spaces up for lease. Several small companies looking for premises from 30 to 50 square metres have found what they are looking for with us," explains Jérôme Descamps, Founding Partner of Casaque, a company designing promotional gifts. "In fact, one of our warehouses is going to become a 1,400 square-metre office space by 2015," he continues.
The advantage of pooled office space lies in the sharing of experience, as companies grouped together in this way often evolve in neighbouring sectors. In Lille, the EuroTechnologies activity park, devoted to information and communication technologies, includes a building specifically for start-ups with common areas specially created to develop synergies between enterprises.