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html The purchase of TDG in the UK has bolstered Norbert Dentressangle's presence in the European chemical transport and logistics sector Transport and logistics company Norbert Dentressangle has boosted its presence in Europe with the acquisition of its UK counterpart, TDG. The 212m ($340m, 241m) purchase was finalized on March 28 this year, adding 700m to Norbert Dentressangle's turnover. Norbert Dentressangle now owns 400,000m2 of chemical storage capacity in Europe Rex Features Managing director of Norbert Dentressangle's transport division Herve Montjotin sees several benefits from the deal. He says: "We have a real change of scale regarding our position in the chemical sector, where we are now one of the leading companies in Europe." The acquisition has boosted the France-headquartered group's chemical storage capacity in Europe to 400,000m2, while the total group's turnover for 2011 is estimated to reach 3.6bn, with 60% of that generated from operations outside France. The surprise for Montjotin was that there were so few overlaps between the two companies and their customer bases. He explains: "On the chemicals market, TDG has a strong position in the UK, Benelux and Spain, while we have very sizeable capabilities in France and Germany. It complements our existing network for chemicals rather well." TDG is active in liquid and dry bulk chemicals, as well as packed specialty chemicals. It bought Belgian family business Mond in March 2006, which was followed a year later by Spanish firm Doman. Hungary's RSS Logistics was added in 2010. The purchase also has boosted Norbert Dentressangle's capabilities in pallet distribution, as well as extending its services in Spain and the UK. Montjotin says that the company has its first domestic pallet network in Spain, fully compliant with ADR (European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road), and also can offer next-day delivery in the UK. This, he says, is a new opportunity, as the pallet network was not initially developed for chemicals. The integration of TDG, which is Norbert Dentressangle's second major buy in the UK after the purchase of Christian Salvesen in 2007, has propelled the group into the top five of European chemical transport and logistics companies, and into Europe's top 10 list of global B2B supply chain management players. Montjotin says that customers have responded positively to the purchase from UK hedge fund Laxey Partners, which took over TDG in July 2008. A trade buyer is good news because it brings stability, says Montjotin. "We are a family-owned, very stable business with a clear vision and great track record. We are interested in having a European player with a good chemical background and track record to maintain current business and to develop new business opportunities. TDG has visibility for the future now." He adds that Norbert Dentressangle can bring additional opportunities for UK customers all over Europe, but he says the first step is to have a greater level of service for ongoing business and to prove that it is a reliable company. "Our business is all about people and execution, and the commitment of management and staff is key in our ability to serve our customers and to meet their expectations," he stresses.

Montjotin says that Norbert Dentressangle has a very hands-on management style with just three directors on its executive board - unusual for a company of its size and scale. Montjotin affirms that this will not change. "We need to have a very fast and simple decision process that enables us to act very quickly." He is optimistic that full integration of TDG, with the exception of some back-office information technology (IT) systems, is on track to be completed by the end of the year. For the future, Montjotin wants to leverage Norbert Dentressangle's leading position in Europe with key international chemical producers by offering them pan-European coverage, particularly with regard to transportation where companies are more used to working with local suppliers. He wants to promote the company's pan-European network - Red Europe - which he believes will be of interest to European suppliers and will help them deliver efficiently in local markets. The Red Europe pallet distribution network, a premium service offering tailored solutions, is present in 17 countries including central and eastern Europe. Montjotin is expecting Red Europe to deliver growth of 10-15% this year. In the short term, the main focus for investment in TDG's assets is in fleet renewal. On average, Norbert Dentressangle spends 1,500-2,000/truck/year. The average age of its trucks is 30-35 months, which is very up-to-date according to Montjotin, who says that the company is one of the first in Europe to own its fleet. Norbert Dentressangle also has been investing significant effort and capital over the past six years in greener transport initiatives. Montjotin says: "We have to work on how to make trucking greener. My conviction is that trucking is not part of the problem but part of the solution." The company is working in two areas: fleet renewal to meet European emissions reduction legislation Euro 5 - about 85% of its fleet currently meets the standard - and testing new technology. Two hybrid trucks took to the roads in Paris and Lyon, France, last June with more planned to be introduced in the UK at the end of this year. "As a haulier, we must be at the top on innovation. The ability of hauliers to bring some proof of greenhouse gas curbing is becoming increasingly important," says Montjotin. He is keen to point out that Norbert Dentressangle has the capability to monitor more than cost for its customers. "Every time we are able to design a solution for our customers, we will be monitoring and measuring greenhouse gases in order that they can decide on their economic objectives and sustainable development as well." Montjotin adds that, two years ago, Norbert Dentressangle was the first transport supplier in Europe to have its own carbon dioxide (CO2) calculation certified by a third party, namely Bureau Veritas, the France-headquartered assessment and certification services provider. One of Montjotin's key desires is to see more collaboration between logistics providers and chemical companies, and he would dearly like to have more opportunities to develop Norbert Dentressangle's collaborative concepts. He ascertains that collaboration, or a fourth-party logistics (4PL) approach, makes sense in a very volatile market with transport constraints. He admits that the company has found it difficult to achieve many good collaborations with chemical suppliers, although there are some notable exceptions. Montjotin concedes that constraints in the chemical sector are higher than, for example, those in the retail or fast-moving consumer goods sectors, but he believes that the chemical industry's traditional and conservative approach to logistics and transport is a big factor in the lack of progress.

However, he says the industry is moving in the direction he imagined five years ago, albeit slower than he would like. KEY FACTS Headquarters: France Turnover: estimated 3.6bn (2011) Warehousing: 6.5bn m2 Locations: 500 sites in 20 countries across Europe, North America and Asia Vehicles: 8,300 Employees: 33,000 By: Elaine Burridge +44 20 8652 3214