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Brittany Ferries and CMA CGM Enter Partnership to Combine Passenger & Freight Transport

14th September 2021
Brittany Ferries, the largest ferry firm operating under the French flag and CMA CGM Group, a major global logistics and container operator, has agreed to make a major investment to support the ferry company in a post-Covid-19 recovery. Brittany Ferries, the largest ferry firm operating under the French flag and CMA CGM Group, a major global logistics and container operator, has agreed to make a major investment to support the ferry company in a post-Covid-19 recovery. Credit: Brittany Ferries-twitter

Brittany Ferries and the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics, announced that CMA CGM has agreed to make a €25m investment in the largest ferry company operating under the French flag, including €10m in quasi-equity. 

Through this agreement, CMA CGM is seeking to support Brittany Ferries’ post-Covid-19 recovery.

The announcement was made during the Assises de l’économie de la mer event, the largest annual meeting of participants in France’s sea economy.  

  • Letter of Intent for an investment to support Brittany Ferries’ post-Covid-19 recovery
  • Commercial partnership unlocking synergies in freight transport across the English Channel and to the Iberian Peninsula
  • Development of LNG excellence in France

The partnership will help to unlock synergies between the two companies in passenger and freight transport. By harnessing the respective areas of expertise of the CMA CGM Group and Brittany Ferries, it will also help promote the development of cross-Channel shipping and underpin France’s position in the sector. Under this agreement, a representative of the CMA CGM Group will join Brittany Ferries’ Supervisory Board.

Synergies in freight shipments across the English Channel and to the Iberian Peninsula

The agreement establishes a commercial partnership between the CMA CGM Group and Brittany Ferries through the use of available cargo space on board Brittany Ferries’ services to the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula. The transportation of goods aboard Brittany Ferries’ roll-on roll-off (roro) ships will help expand the CMA CGM Group’s offering in the roro sector for the Atlantic and northern coast of France to destinations in the United Kingdom.

The partnership with CMA CGM will also pave the way for Brittany Ferries to gain more expertise in freight and logistics. It will help the company to adapt more easily to the post-Covid-19 trends in goods transportation, including the transport of unaccompanied trailers, and to offer new transport services so it can better meet the needs of its customers.

Through this agreement, both groups will be able to introduce new ro ro services.

Development of LNG excellence in France

CMA CGM and Brittany Ferries, both of which are committed to developing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power their ships, will be looking at ways of sharing their LNG knowledge and resources in areas such as training for French crews and safety procedures.

Both companies have also undertaken to introduce more environmentally-friendly shipping and logistics solutions.

Two new LNG-powered ships are due to join Brittany Ferries’ fleet next year and in 2023. The new Ro-pax vessels, to be named Salamanca and Santoña, will operate services between the United Kingdom and Spain.

In addition, Brittany Ferries is about to introduce a new rail freight service to expand its multimodal offering. By year-end 2022 the company will offer its customers an unaccompanied trailer transport service on the Atlantic coast rail network between Bayonne and Cherbourg.

Published in Brittany Ferries
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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About Brittany Ferries

In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK. In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born.

The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story, therefore, begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain's entry into the Common Market (EEC).

From these humble beginnings however, Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative.

Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British.

Key Brittany Ferries figures:

  • Turnover: €202.4 million (compared with €469m in 2019)
  • Investment in three new ships, Galicia plus two new vessels powered by cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas) arriving in 2022 and 2023
  • Employment: 2,474 seafarers and shore staff (average high/low season)
  • Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (compared with 2,498,354 in 2019)
  • Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (compared with 201,554 in 2019)
  • Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain (non-Covid year) across 14 routes
  • Twelve ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Rosslare, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff
  • Tourism in Europe: 231,000 unique visitors, staying 2.6 million bed-nights in France in 2020 (compared with 857,000 unique visitors, staying 8,7 million bed-nights in 2019).

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