Olivier Boccara, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Bolloré Logistics

Bolloré Logistics: At the Forefront of the Global Logistics Revolution

For any company to thrive, it is essential that it navigates effortlessly through all the challenges to provide its product or services to the end customer. Supply chain companies play a vital role when it comes to the whole process that goes into manufacturing a product to its final delivery.

Bolloré Logistics is one such company that is providing excellent supply chain services in the transport and logistics sector. Based out of Puteaux, France, the company is a major international transport and logistics operator. With an extensive reach, the company is a leading supply chain service provider in the world.

In an interview with Insights Success, Olivier Boccara, the Global Chief Commercial Officer of Bolloré Logistics shares his insights on the back-end activities involved in the transportation and logistics sector.

Below are the highlights from the industry:

Please brief our audience about Bolloré, its USPs, and how the company is currently positioned as a leading player in the supply chain solutions space.

Founded in 1822, Bolloré is one of the 500 largest companies in the world, with a turnover of €24,109 million in 2020. Thanks to a diversification strategy based on innovation and international development, we now hold strong positions in all our activities around three business lines, Transportation and Logistics, Media & Communication, and Electricity Storage & Solutions.

We are a global leader in international transport & logistics and have a network of 600 offices in 109 countries with more than 19,519 employees. We have been positioned as the only Pan-African transport and logistics service provider.

We have been operating in Africa for more than 50 years. Our performance stems from a worldwide network of experts and from value-added integrated information systems and tools, which afford complete visibility on all operations throughout the entire supply chain.

In a complex and volatile world, a lean and agile supply chain is essential for the creation of value. The loyalty and individual commitment of our employees make us different, and innovation is rooted in the spirit of enterprise and the constant quest for improvement.

Since 2017, the CSR policy has been one of the five pillars of Bolloré Logistics’ overall strategy. In the third quarter of 2018, we launched the CSR ‘Powering Sustainable Logistics’ program, based on 4 levers and 11 commitments, reflected in objectives to be achieved by 2030.

What other services does Bolloré offer, and how are these making an impact on the industry and your clients?

Bolloré Logistics’ range of services extends across five core categories: Multimodal Transport, Customs and Regulatory Compliance, Logistics, Global Supply Chain, and Industrial Projects. Our services are backed by a panel of approved suppliers (air, ocean, and road freight companies) that have undergone our strict selection process air and ocean consolidation platforms at every major international hub.

We have built strong positions in major industry sectors: aerospace, automotive, healthcare, perfumes & cosmetics, oil and gas, mining, infrastructure, defence, aid & relief, and soft commodities markets.

More recently, we have become a major player in the flourishing retail sector. We operate international e-commerce logistics in Africa with door-to-door solutions, including express service.

Against the backdrop of volatility and the digitalization of freight markets, we are re-inventing our transport & logistics solutions. Indeed, IoT technologies will enhance our performance level in areas such as visibility and piloting.

Predictive analytics techniques, robotics, and automation will be also widely deployed. Besides, we have created the B.Lab, an innovation community that aims to create new products, services, and processes with the close involvement of our customers.

We are moving from the transaction era to the flow engineering era to take account of the increasing complexity of our customers’ supply chains.

To this effect, Bolloré Logistics implements control towers whose primary functions include:

  • The coordination of all Bolloré Logistics teams and subcontractors by acting as our clients’ LLP (Lead Logistics Provider),
  • The management of all communications with our customers to ensure end-to-end visibility of the entire logistics chain,
  • The dynamic traceability of flows and the management of alerts to allow them to switch to alternative solutions and backup plans whenever necessary,
  • The analysis of performance indicators and monitoring of Bolloré Logistics’ constant improvement process.

Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on what impact have the adoption of modern technologies such as AI, big data, and machine learning had on the supply chain niche, and what more could be expected in the future?

As mentioned above, B.Lab, Bolloré Logistics’ innovation booster, accelerates innovation in the supply chain by supporting all innovation initiatives, from ideation to go-to-market phase.

Our experimental and collaborative approach focuses on the needs of our customers.

These innovation initiatives are supported by four technologies –

  • Blockchain to provide structured, distributed, cryptographically secured, and forgery-proof protocol sets for data transmission, storage, and usage within an entrusted ecosystem of partners.
  • Artificial Intelligence to interpret and build analyses and predictive models.
  • Robotics to automate shop floor tasks (material handling, labelling, kitting, and so on) and desk tasks (with Robotic Process Automation).
  • Internet of Things to record/generate accurate ‘on the field’ data.

Taking into consideration the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face and how did Bolloré sustain operations while ensuring the safety of its employees at the same time?

From January 25, 2020, a China Coronavirus Task Force was formed, and Bolloré Logistics Greater China activated a contingency plan to ensure staff safety in local branches. As East-West air freight and sea freight capacity dropped double-digit alternative multimodal transport solutions have been set up.

Besides, Bolloré Logistics was at the forefront of providing countries with personal protective equipment. In H1, 2020, 1 billion masks were shipped from China and Vietnam.

In 2021, the global backdrop has still related to a shortage of freight capacities and high volatility of rates.

Bolloré Logistics executes agile transport plans based on air charters, multimodal solutions, and regional distribution centres. It is also boosting its digitization program to increase operational reactivity. We are also offering new low-carbon transport solutions as the pandemic crisis has highlighted the importance of sustainability.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the supply chain space?

The supply chain is a people’s activity before all. Attracting and retaining talents is a key success factor. Technology is a strong lever as well. Providing digital services to customers will bring businesses greater simplicity, transparency, and responsiveness in the management of their international transport.

In 2020, the Bolloré Group took a majority stake in OVRSEA, a start-up founded in 2017 that made the bold move of digitalizing the sector through a web interface for transport management, from quotes to invoices via real-time tracking.

How do you envision scaling Bollore’s operations and offerings in 2021?

Our Strategy is to bolster Bolloré Logistics’ position among the global leaders by increasing its global footprint, innovating by re-inventing, and digitizing its transport & logistics solutions while committing to its social responsibility reflected in the Group’s Ethics Charter and contributing to the protection of the environment and fostering sustainable development.

In 2021, we aim at:

  • Offering our customers, a full range of expertise with high added value & alternative solutions in any circumstances,
  • Delivering cutting-edge and pragmatic solutions,
  • Supporting our customers in their sustainable development with our CSR program,
  • Ensuring Ethics & Compliance with our General Code of Business Conduct.

About the Leader

Like most of the members of the Bolloré Logistics steering committee, Olivier Boccara, Global Chief Commercial Officer, has developed extensive experience in international logistics, including more than 20 years in the Group. He has a sharp vision of market developments, extensive knowledge of the needs of global players in their respective industries as well as global players in the air and maritime transport.