Fashion for France: DB Schenker supports La Halle, this European country’s biggest clothing and shoe retail chain, by handling its ocean freight imports – now also using the Integrated Cargo Management (ICM) solution. Photos: La Halle, DB Schenker
In France the La Halle brand stands for the latest fashion for the whole family, at affordable prices. This is one constant the company intends to keep – making a whole lot of changes in other areas at the same time. The most prominent example is the merger of the two sister companies La Halle aux Chaussures and La Halle aux Vêtements at the beginning of 2019, creating France’s biggest clothing and shoe retail chain with a total of 870 outlets.
Since last year, the company, which has over 7,000 employees and belongs to the French Vivarte Group, has been testing the Famili’Halle concept: shops that focus even more on families as their core customers than before. There is also the increased shift towards “omni channel,” where bricks-and-mortar stores and web-based sales channels are combined to give customers the option of ordering online and then picking up their merchandise from the store using the “cabines click & collect” facility. “In this respect, too, our tightly-knit network represents a genuine strength factor,” says La Halle’s Supply Chain Director Jean-Michel Fabre.
“We are using our new stores outside
France to trial our concept and test the robustness of our processes”
Jean-Michel Fabre, Supply Chain Director, La Halle
However, the La Halle supply chains are set to become even more multi-layered in the future. This is because the company, whose only presence outside France until recently has been through a partnership in Switzerland, also intends to gain a foothold in the Maghreb, in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Balkans. “We opened a franchise store in Albania in 2017, and another in New Caledonia in the South Pacific in 2018,” says Fabre. “We are using these stores to trial our concept and test the robustness of our processes.”
La Halle is aiming for a 25 percent increase in sales over the next three years. “For this reason we have started with the implementation of a comprehensive logistics master plan, which is meant to cover the period until 2023,” says Jean-Michel Fabre. The company is investing a total of more than 20 million euros in new IT systems, in the introduction of a new warehouse management system, and in the refurbishment of two logistics centers, focusing, among other things, on automation and on further improving working conditions.
Relaxed ambience: part of the French Vivarte Group, the retailer with a total workforce exceeding 7,000 caters for the whole family. In addition to its 870 outlets all over France, La Halle intends to develop further markets. Photos: La Halle
DB Schenker is playing a decisive role in this concept: the logistics service provider handles imports of merchandise by sea on behalf of La Halle. In the last financial year, the volume of these imports was exactly 1,731 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units), almost one fifth more than in the previous year. “Apart from a few imports from the Maghreb and Turkey, almost all deliveries come from Asia,” according to Fabre. China and Bangladesh are the main countries of origin.
Like many other fashion labels, La Halle favors a rapid sequence of its collections. “The ‘half-life’ of our products is getting shorter and shorter,” says the Supply Chain Director. That is why finding ways to reduce the time to market is a perennial subject. Which only adds to the importance of the portal that La Halle and DB Schenker have just built together. It is based on DB Schenker’s Integrated Cargo Management (ICM) solution, which the logistics service provider offers as part of its ocean freight portfolio. Key benefits for the customer are more precise control and monitoring of shipments from overseas.
“DB Schenker’s know-how regarding our brand is absolutely invaluable”
Jean-Michel Fabre, Supply Chain Director, La Halle
La Halle calls for tenders for the transportation of its sea freight every six months. “DB Schenker has been successful in this regard time and again over many years,” says Jean-Michel Fabre. “The reason is that the company offers high-quality solutions – and that its know-how regarding our brand is absolutely invaluable.”
A strong commitment on the part of the staff, responsiveness and customer orientation: these are some of the characteristics of a logistics service provider that are highly appreciated by the people running La Halle’s supply chain. “Another thing that is very important for us is that DB Schenker constantly comes to us with suggestions for optimization measures,” says Fabre. It was one of these suggestions that led to the company using ICM right now. “When it comes to setting up a project like this, I will only trust a provider who doesn’t shy away from getting really involved.”
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