The story began with one just man: André Pecqueur. Later, it would become a family affair. The Brasserie de St-Omer (St-Omer Brewery) – or BSO as it is commonly known – is a genuine success story, built on a long-term strategic vision, a favourable market, and also the support of La Palette Rouge (LPR), a long-standing partner that has supported the development of BSO, particularly in the export market.
Based in the north of France, the Brasserie de St-Omer was acquired by André Pecqueur in 1985 and then taken over by Heineken in 1996. Benefiting from the power of a major group, the brewery built a solid reputation for itself. However, twelve years later, the Dutch Group decided to refocus on its own products and sold the brewery. It was bought back by André Pecqueur, who decided to take over all the production based in St-Omer and, above all, the site’s 185 employees.
Moving into the export market with reliable partners
In order to cope with the increase in sales volumes driven by dynamic market demand and the shift towards export markets - notably United Kingdom (an important long-standing market for BSO), Spain since 2000 and more recently countries in Central and Eastern Europe - you need the support of solid partnerships, especially when addressing the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector:
“One of our main strengths is our approach to stock, because we do not consider it from a financial point of view but from a customer-service point of view; product availability is essential. This also requires having a good pallet supplier,” says Benoit Crottier, Sales Director at BSO.
Providing the best possible customer service while remaining competitive means that the company’s delivery trucks - which make 22,000 journeys a year - are always full and deliver the products on time. The Brasserie de St-Omer has been working with the European pallet-pooling specialist LPR-La Palette Rouge (a Division of Euro Pool Group) for more than fifteen years. BSO puts this unfailing loyalty down to “LPR’s irreproachable level of service, its affordable prices and its professionalism in terms of quality”; because quality is not an empty word at BSO:
“This is an absolutely crucial criterion. All our production lines are automated so if the pallet-stacking process is not up to scratch, the impact can be really significant. With LPR, we know that this stage will run really smoothly, both on small pallets or for 1.25-tonne loads. We are constantly pushing back the limits and LPR’s teams always meet the challenge,” says Benoit Crottier.
Responsiveness and total availability!
There have already been several challenges, and there will undoubtedly be more! With constant growth in terms of volumes, the number of pallets increases significantly from year to year: BSO’s needs represented 600,000 pallets in 2017, and this figure is expected to rise to 730,000 units this year.
“These are significant increases, but LPR's availability and responsiveness are always up to the task, particularly due to the proximity of their service centres, the closest being in Carvin, about 20 kilometres from the factory,” says Benoit Crottier.
The success of this partnership can also be put down to the launch of products and services developed by listening to customers’ needs. “For example, three years ago, we asked LPR to supply us with Düsseldorf pallets, which was a new product for them; however, this did not stop LPR from investing heavily in order to develop a range as quickly as possible. The advantage of this type of pallet for BSO is obvious: export.
“This type of pallet is highly adaptable and it gives us a lot of flexibility; it is an asset in terms of helping us extend our network of distributors and develop export sales. Thanks to this type of product and LPR's support, we were able to fulfil a major contract with the giant retailer Lidl. In addition, LPR’s trucks leave the production centre and come directly to us without going via the service centre in order to respond more quickly when necessary,” explains Benoit Crottier.
Finally, LPR is constantly developing its service network in Europe and establishing new agreements with distributors. “This makes it possible for our products to be delivered on their pallets; they work on a daily basis to constantly improve their service and optimise prices, particularly for large shipments. LPR always works for our benefit, in terms of referencing and service quality,” says Benoit Crottier. Hervé Fourcade, Sales Director of LPR, stresses that La Palette Rouge is ready to support the growth of the Brasserie de St-Omer on both an international and general level: “Our teams are used to working closely together. We systematically adapt to BSO’s needs, as with the example of Lidl; we had to work overtime on that project! In any case, it is very motivating for LPR because BSO is constantly moving forward: a genuine success story.”
Transport, the Group’s other business through its subsidiary TSA
Although somewhat unusual for a brewery, André Pecqueur developed a road transport business very early on, following the sale of the beer activity to Heineken, in 1999. With a view to diversification, the subsidiary (called TSA - Transports Saint-Arnoult) quickly grew into a fully-fledged transport company working with numerous customers in the packaging, beverage and food industries. Here again, LPR is involved in supplying and pooling pallets, notably coming from the United Kingdom, through LPR’s service centre in Carvin. This is another factor supporting the close long-term relationship between the two companies.
About LPR-La Palette Rouge
LPR-La Palette Rouge, a Division of Euro Pool System Group, is a pallet-pooling company for manufacturers and distributors in the fast-moving consumer goods sector. LPR operates throughout Europe, providing a full pallet service to its customers and their retail partners. It manages more than 83 million pallet movements per year throughout Europe. www.lpr.eu
About Euro Pool Group
Euro Pool Group is the European leader in logistics services for returnable packaging in the fresh produce sector. Euro Pool Group is composed of two divisions, Euro Pool System (EPS) and La Palette Rouge (LPR).