ONE-STOP SHOP

Morocco 2020/21 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

IPSEN Logistics' strategy for a post-COVID-19 world is to focus on areas where there is less competition and where it can provide the most added value.

Antoine de Mirbeck
BIOGRAPHY

Antoine de Mirbeck is the managing partner and founder of Ipsen Logistics in Morocco. He spent his first 18 years in western Africa in different countries. He studied management and entrepreneurship in Paris and received his degree from Institut Superieur du Commerce. After his graduation, he invested in, innovated, and set up several companies. He has worked in the supply chain industry and has extensive experience in management.

How would you describe the evolution of IPSEN Logistics?
In the beginning, we were extremely specialized in conventional sea freight and cargo, as well as project cargo. Over the
years, we have grown to 15 people, and now we have reached a setup of 120 people. We have developed many services,
and much of that is in supply chain. We have our own logistics warehouse as well. Some 12 years ago, we shifted our
focus to logistics with an investment of EUR10 million. We are also a customs broker via our subsidiary Ipsen Group
Transit. Now, we are heavily involved in the entire supply chain. We transport either by sea, air, or land. We have consolidation hubs in Europe for pickup, storage, and transport. We can transport to Morocco on a weekly basis from any of our hubs in Gelsenkirchen, Stuttgart, Milan, Lyon, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, or Marseilles. We also have our own bonded warehouse in Casablanca with a customs officer on site. The focus is on transporting, clearing, storing, and distribution. We have our own trucks for local distribution and logistics. When you talk about the supply chain, we are actually a one-stop shop.

What has your strategy been since the COVID-19 outbreak?
We had to take some drastic measures to cope with it. We mapped all of our facilities and offices and trained our people to enforce social distancing and use PPE equipment. At present, 80% of our office staff is working from home. In the warehouse, things are more complicated, but since we could not take any risks, we started rotating staff on a three-shift basis. We have seen a drop of about 35% in volume and activity. The positive sign is that logistics is still booming.

How would you describe the digitalization of IPSEN?
We have our own system for transporting, accounting, and customer service. All these are linked to our server and the cloud. We do not have any digital applications that all our employees use, though it is something we will work on down the line. Morocco has been pushing hard for digitalization, especially when it comes to the customs authorities. Notably, Morocco is a full year ahead of its digitalization plan. We had to do weekly training sessions with the customs authorities to ensure a smooth adoption of the new system.

How would you evaluate the logistics sector in Morocco?
One problem we are facing is the cost of real estate. The Logistics Development Association of Morocco (AMDL) is currently in the process of identifying several zones and asking us if we are interested in some land there. AMDL is a major part of our future plans because it will provide us land at an affordable cost.

What are your goals for the year ahead?
In Morocco, there is a great deal of competition. There are perhaps 2,000 freight forwarding competitors in Casablanca alone. There are 800 competitors in customs clearance, 300 in logistics, and possibly 1,000 when it comes to local tracking and distribution. For many years, and still to date, the informal market has been hurting us. It does not pay any VAT, social security, or retirement benefits. Hopefully, the sector will become more formalized. We see it happening with the Association of Freight Forwarding of Morocco (AFFM). We have to focus on those fields where there is less competition and where we can provide the best added value. On a daily basis, we are investing in IT, maintenance, space,our people, and everything else for our customers. This is our focus for the next five years. We want to grow every day, increase our margins, buy better, get more trucks, and have a bigger space. The focus with AMDL is to sell our current warehouse so that we can build a bigger warehouse in a dedicated area. Our vision is to concentrate all our activities in the same area.