Freshly appointed head of XPO Logistics France, Bruno Kloeckner reveals his strategy for the next few years without language of wood: pricing policy, shortage of drivers, energy transition…
Transportation Info : You have just taken control of XPO France after having been its deputy general manager. What is your roadmap ?
Bruno Kloeckner : It is based on three axes: profitable and responsible growth, satisfaction of customers and teams who have been put to the test during the health crisis and innovation, especially for the digital part. The objective is to strengthen the relationship with our customers and to optimize our back office.
IT : What is your pricing policy ?
BK : The revaluation of the tariffs is carried out in several stages. In 2021, we had anticipated inflation with our customers, which has since been integrated into our rates. Today, we are facing overinflation which is linked to the explosion in commodity prices. Our digital “pricing” tool allows us to be very responsive and to automatically and momentarily pass on our prices to customers, in one direction or the other.
Then, we set up with them a mechanism to guarantee them a constant quality of service despite the shortage of drivers in exchange for a longer commitment on their part. In summary, more than half of our activity is contracted and customers accept the principle.
IT : You work within the CNR on fuel price increases, what does it consist of? ?
BK : I am a member of the board of directors among the seven administrators of the FNTR who sit on the CNR. We are working on the publication of fuel indexations and in particular on the way to reduce the delays which weigh on carriers’ cash flow. For example, between the moment when the diesel increases at the pump and the moment when this increase is passed on to the bill, it can take more than a month. The objective is to reduce delays, as has been demanded by the FNTR and the other employers’ organisations.
IT : What are your actions to fight against the shortage of drivers ?
BK : To permanently recruit 200 to 300 drivers, we have resized our recruitment team. We increasingly rely on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, channels that are very popular with drivers.
We have also created a job forum which consists of welcoming on several of our sites all those who are interested in being a driver and in a career within XPO. This initiative makes it possible to get a concrete idea of the RFT professions.
IT : How do you view road-rail ?
BK : We don’t talk about it enough, but multimodal is already a reality at XPO. For example, we have successfully tested deliveries using barges, via the Seine, for Franprix stores in Paris. In addition to the river, we are working with the SNCF to consider restoring the tracks serving certain warehouses already connected.
An operation that would allow pallets to be transported by conventional train or swap bodies via a handset. These projects require discussions with several players: the customer, Fret SNCF, SNCF Réseau and the elected representatives of the communities of municipalities or agglomerations because it is also necessary to resize the access roads to the warehouses. To get off to a good start, it is essential to find counter-flows to prevent the trains from returning empty. Our sales teams prospect in the field and sense real enthusiasm from customers. In general, there is now a real desire among shippers to decarbonize their freight.
“We were testing a form of circular economy.”
IT : How is XPO France’s business doing? ?
BK : We have completely erased the Covid effect to return, in the first quarter, to the level of 2019. In terms of investment, we even returned to that of 2017, which was a great year. At the same time, we have signed the largest number of contracts with our customers in our history. The high level of investment is linked to our decarbonization policy in order to implement our objective: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 compared to our reference year of 2019.
IT : Precisely, towards which solutions are you moving? ?
BK : Almost 100% of our current fleet is in Euro 6, gas motorization concerns 20% of the palletized activity and we strongly believe in this energy. We have started testing electric vehicles with Renault Trucks and the results are very convincing. Drivers like it, there are few jolts, it’s quiet and it offers them better comfort.
This electrical solution requires resizing our infrastructure to perform recharging. We are working with Enedis and Total Energies on this subject. In five years, we will have a high proportion of electric carriers to meet the requirements of ZFEs. At the same time, we have started restoring certain trucks to almost new condition. The counter does not change, but it allows to extend the life of a truck by at least 3-4 years. It is a fairly new form of circular economy in the truck sector which generates a saving of 14 tonnes of CO2. This concerns less than 10% of our fleet and we carry out this operation between 500,000 and 700,000 km.
IT : In your opinion, what are the most relevant alternatives to oil? ?
BK : I strongly believe in HVO, it’s a safe bet for recovering used oils. It is not necessary to reconfigure the vehicle whereas with the B100, it is necessary to carry out an operation of approximately 2,000 € per truck. Obviously, hydrogen interests us but it remains a dangerous material, difficult to store, and it is not yet a mature technology for heavy goods vehicles. We are for our part already conquered by the electric whose room for improvement is also very important.
Interview conducted by Marc Fressoz