Paris-headquartered €210m turnover freight firm will add ‘operations in France, international branches, strong Asia-Europe inbound air and ocean freight volumes, and innovative sustainability programmes’.

US-headquartered freight and supply chain group SEKO Logistics has completed its largest acquisition to-date with its investment in Paris-headquartered transport and logistics group Bansard International, “merging the complementary geographic footprints and service offerings” of the two companies.

The Chicago-headquartered logistics group said the combination of the two companies would “produce significant benefits and growth opportunities for the clients and employees of both companies, as SEKO Logistics embarks on the latest stage of its global expansion strategy with the support of its equity investor, Ridgemont Equity Partners”. This is SEKO’s largest strategic investment since selecting Ridgemont as its new investment partner in December 2020 and represents “a clear statement of intent’ of the company’s growth ambition”, said James Gagne, SEKO’s president and CEO.

Bansard: sales of €210 m in 2020

SEKO described Bansard International as “one of the leading transportation and logistics operators in France” which, since its formation in 1963, “has created a thriving international business spanning 54 offices in 17 countries”. With about 600 employees, Bansard International achieved sales of more than €210 million in 2020, serving a diverse customer base in the retail/fashion, electronics, industrial, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries, among others.

Prior to this acquisition, SEKO had over 120 offices in more than 40 countries.

Simon Pinto, President of Bansard, will continue to lead Bansard, a formerly family-held company. SEKO said Pinto “remains personally invested in the combined business and will continue to build the company’s product and service portfolio for Bansard’s more than 5,000 longstanding clients”.

Bansard provides complete door-to-door logistics management services, covering consultancy, freight forwarding, warehousing, de/consolidation, transportation management, quality control, and customs clearance services.

SEKO and Bansard’s “complementary service offerings will produce immediate benefits for each company’s clients”, SEKO said, adding: “SEKO will offer Bansard’s clients the opportunity to grow their sales in the US and UK markets through access to its national network of stations, as well as SEKO’s fast-growing, cross border ecommerce and omni-channel fulfillment solutions. SEKO will benefit from Bansard’s highly‑respected business operations in France, international branches, strong Asia-Europe inbound air and ocean freight volumes, and innovative sustainability programs for carbon calculations and offsets.”

The next stage of global growth

Gagne said: “SEKO Logistics is primed for the next stage of our global growth but, in terms of acquisitions, we select our preferred partners with great care and due diligence. Bansard International is a perfect fit with our own business model as a mid-sized, independent, growth and technology-driven, client-obsessed organisation. We are excited to work with Simon and his fantastic team to drive benefits for the clients of both companies.”

He added: “There are so many positive aspects of our new collaboration. France is such an important logistics market, even more so since Brexit. Working with Bansard, we are making a long-term commitment to clients in France and those across the globe trading with France.

“In Europe, this new investment adds to SEKO’s strong presence in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark and puts us on a rapid upward trajectory. We are continuing to explore further investments to strengthen our global network and service portfolio.”

Post-Brexit importance of France

Explaining the increased post-Brexit importance of France to the organisation’s logistics capabilities, chief growth officer Brian Bourke told Lloyd’s Loading List: “France is a critical entry point to the EU from the UK and vice versa for road freight – which has become even more critical with the re-introduction of the border with Brexit. We never stopped shipping freight or parcels from day one (post-Brexit), unlike other logistics companies, as we had invested in and prepared for a customs solution, but having the infrastructure in France will help us further expand our services on both sides of the border.”

Simon Pinto, president of the Bansard International Group, commented: “This merger is a unique strategic opportunity that allows Bansard International to become a global player by covering new geographies, including the United States, and by offering our customers innovative international transport solutions, especially for e-commerce. It is good news for our customers, for our employees and for our suppliers, thanks to the growth prospects through diversification of services, better international coverage and higher potential for technological development.”

At the end of 2020, SEKO announced that Ridgemont Equity Partners, a Charlotte-based middle market buyout and growth equity investor, had become its new main investment partner, stating that the move “launched the next phase of its expansion, with plans for additional acquisitions, technology platform investments, and growth in key geographies”. Greenbriar Equity Group LP, a New York-based private equity firm with extensive experience investing in the global logistics industry and SEKO’s key shareholder since 2015, was expected to continue as a minority investor.

Founded in 1976, SEKO provides e-commerce logistics and shipping solutions, white glove delivery solutions, healthcare logistics and value-added freight forwarding services. In a shift from purely organic growth since its founding in 1976, SEKO has in the last three years acquired a compliance-focused freight forwarder, GoodShip International, and cross-border e-commerce specialists and airfreight forwarder Air-City. SEKO has also acquired a majority position in its strategic partner Omni-Channel Logistics Australia to further solidify and grow its e-commerce and technology solutions for retailers, pure-play etailers, marketplaces and platforms.

Larger than Air-City purchase

Prior to this acquisition of Bansard International, SEKO’s largest acquisition was the purchase of New York-based freight forwarder and cross-border e-commerce experts Air-City in January 2020, in which it gained “immediate depth” in the growing e-commerce-driven air freight trade from the US to China and key facility infrastructure near JFK airport. Air-City had 15 offices worldwide, with more than 400 employees.

SEKO, which had built up a network of over 120 offices in 40 countries via a ‘shareholder management model’, said the investment in Air-City represented “the latest phase of SEKO’s programme to accelerate its strategic vision by expanding its global footprint, establishing more strategic partnerships, and making accretive acquisitions that expedite the growth of its three core services; omni-channel logistics, white-glove services and value-added freight forwarding”.




Source: Lloyd’s