The Biterrois group, in conjunction with the town hall, made four round trips to Poland to bring the donations made by the inhabitants of the territory to the Ukrainian people. Narrative.
Four round trips from Béziers to the Ukrainian border since March 11. This is not necessarily incredible for a company specializing in transport. However, this remains a commitment for the Clareton group, established since 2014 in Thézan-lès-Béziers.
It was Alexandre Clareton, head of the group, who took the initiative to contact the town hall of Béziers following the first convoy from Biterrois to deliver the donations collected in the territory. “On social networks, I saw the small city trucks… So I decided to send a message to a contact I had at the town hall.” Alexandre Clareton knows the world of transport very well and also knows the difficulties that can be encountered along the way: the exchange of currency, the payment of tolls in certain areas, “the protection of goods, the driver, customs formalities…”
Traceability to the Przemysl warehouse
“I was interested in bringing my stone to the building”, explains the young boss who therefore offers a free trip to the services of the City of Béziers. On March 11, a semi-trailer filled with 33 pallets, or 90 m3 of donations, set off with a single driver on board and was destined for Wroclaw, in western Poland, on the German side. A journey of 1,700 km with a logistics base as a base where many solidarity convoys converged.
“I thought it would be a unique trip”, confides Alexandre Clareton. But that was without taking into account the generosity of citizens. In collaboration with the Biterroise municipality, three other trips are organized, “billed at cost.” “This time, the goal was more specific. Robert Ménard insisted that the donations reach the Ukrainian twin town of Béziers – Tchortkiv – which was a good thing.”
In Poland, a few kilometers from this famous city, the truck will therefore stop at the Przemysl logistics warehouse. This time, from the city of Riquet, the route is 2,500 km. Two and a half days on the road. In connection with the needs formulated since Tchortkiv, it is essentially medical accessories, medicines, food that are unloaded. For the traceability of donations, the operation is a success.
A high cost
The return journey is not empty. Via “networks, freight exchanges”, the truck loads industrial food products produced in Polish factories for the French market. This cuts the overall cost of the humanitarian mission, around €4,900 round trip, in half.
“We are in the process of setting up files because Germany and Poland reimburse the toll in the event of humanitarian transport. France has not communicated on this subject”, launches the boss who inevitably keeps an eye on the expenses. Especially in the current context. For exemple, “for us, on a March invoice, the cost of diesel went from €220,000 to €340,000 for the same quantities, the same consumption, the same turnover.”
The entrepreneur passes on this increase “at the bottom of the invoice” (a legal obligation) but he is nonetheless worried. 2021 was his worst year. With 13 million euros in turnover but “A profitability close to zero “. The Clareton Group employs “just over 80 employees”.
Develop the logistics activity
Clareton was created in 2009. Initially a tenant in Servian, Alexandre Clareton acquired his own site in Thézan-lès-Béziers in 2014. The facilities were delivered in March 2021 after 9 months of construction.
In 2018, Clareton bought an identical structure in Loiret with around twenty vehicles. The Clareton group therefore has a total fleet of 70 vehicles mainly dedicated to transport “under controlled temperature”that is to say the refrigerated transport of early vegetables on the Perpignan-Paris axis.
Next challenge: the purchase of 6,000 m2 of warehouses, half of which are refrigerated, in Biterrois, to develop the logistics activity.