Christian Zbylut, Director of International Development for automotive logistics specialist Gefco, talks to Stuart Todd about the Peugeot-Citroën-owned company’s growth plans

A word on the ’mega contract’ with General Motors

From January we will be taking over the running of GM’s logistics department in Europe. This is a huge chunk of business and we’re very excited about it.

Are you planning to set up more subsidiaries?

Over the past five or six years, Gefco has maintained a rhythm of setting up two to three subsidiaries a year. We are on the point of setting up our own company in Mexico and are also looking closely at Algeria and the UAE. Central Asia is on our radar too and we hope to create subsidiaries in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan in the coming years.

We now have 15 subsidiaries in central and eastern Europe, central Asia and the Middle East – generating annual revenues of €700 million and which could represent 25% of Gefco’s global turnover by 2015. This is out of a total of 32 subsidiaries worldwide and we are aiming to increase the total number to 50 in the mid-term.

What factors do you take into account when opening a new subsidiary?

Having basically held onto the coat tails of Peugeot-Citroën when it was moving into markets outside France, from 2004-2005 onwards, we decided to accelerate our own international development in anticipation of where our customers, including Peugeot-Citroën, would be focusing their expansion.
For example, we set up in Russia late-2003, three years before Peugeot-Citroën decided to go there. Having us there already, faciliated the creation of its assembly plant in Kaluga, south of Moscow. This ’model’ has proved very successful in other countries too.

What is your market outlook?

Forecasts suggest that things will probably remain grim in western Europe until 2014 but we know that emerging countries will carry on growing and our focus in the coming months and years is to ensure that we have the necessary resources to respond fully to these very buoyant market conditions.

Has the dynamic turnover growth in Latin America (+15%) and in central and eastern Europe (+25%) of last year continued in 2012?

Yes, it continues to be strong. When western Europe sees its growth flatten or fall below last year’s figures, in central and eastern Europe and Latin America or even Asia, double-digit growth remains intact which is very encouraging.

Are there other regions where growth is dynamic?

Asia, China and India in particular.

Has the acquisition of Italian counterpart, Gruppo Mercurio in May 2011 enhanced Gefco’s global offering?

Undoubtedly. It has not only diversified our ’auto’ portfolio away from Peugeot-Citroën – Mercurio has significant business with Fiat – but has also allowed us to enter the massive market for finished vehicle distribution in India.

Do you have other targets in your sights?

Yes we do and we would be ready to act as soon as we got the green light from our owner. But given the current context in which Gefco itself is the subject of a partial or total sale, our hands are tied for the moment. The picture will become much clearer in September.

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