How the Intercontinental Rail solution from Vietnam to Europe helped Decathlon overcome global supply chain setbacks caused by the pandemic.

Helping get sport back on the right track - Decathlon cart, ball, shoe illustration

The customer

With over 1,698 stores in 61 countries, Decathlon is one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the world. The company, which started in France, not only distributes sporting equipment and apparel, but designs and manufactures them in-house as well. They also have over 50 brands, each dedicated to specific sports and activities.

Outdoor sports were put on hold as the impact of Covid-19 forced many to stay at home, which then brought a new wave of home workout enthusiasts. Decathlon saw an exponential rise in orders and deliveries as more people started purchasing workout equipment to help them reach their fitness goals in the comfort of their own homes.

Helping get sport back on the right track - Woman with mask map, ship illustration

The challenge

The pandemic resulted in global lockdowns, which had ripple effects in many industries and their logistics setups. Decathlon was especially affected, as the growing popularity of home workouts put additional stress on their supply chain operations. The company has seen a surge in demand for workout equipment and apparel which their manufacturing setup in Vietnam has been keeping up with. However, getting their products across to Europe was a struggle.

Helping get sport back on the right track - woman running on track illustration

They needed a transportation solution that was more reliable in terms of transit time, compared to conventional shipping. Air freight wasn’t a viable option due to the extremely large volume of cargo that was being transported. Decathlon sought to hold their goods at warehouses in Vietnam, but plans were derailed as the sites were used for quarantine purposes. This need for a reliable, fast and high-volume solution was compounded by a shortage of containers, which made it even more challenging for Decathlon to fulfil all the orders they’d received.

The solution

When Maersk found out about Decathlon’s predicament, the team recognised that intercontinental rail was the need of the hour. As a global integrated logistics solution provider, Maersk had the home team advantage and used their connections with all major logistics operators to get Decathlon’s products from Vietnam to France.

Because of the massive amount of cargo to be delivered, an entire block train had to be dedicated just to Decathlon, making it the first of its kind on the route from Vietnam to Europe. In addition, our team of professionals handled all crucial documentation such as Customs House Brokerage to ensure the operations were flawless, and accurate GPS trackers were used to provide precise updates.

There is a container shortage, limited space in the warehouse, and ocean capacity constraints on the services network. In our constant effort to cater to Decathlon’ specific needs, we are integrating various transport modes to provide agility and flexibility as well as reliability to transport their products.

Rossie Hong Nguyen,
Lifestyle and Retail Client Manager, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar Area, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Maersk’s dependability, along with their familiarity with our products and our needs, has proven invaluable. With the block train, we get a totally new transport solution that is efficient, reliable and with a lower impact on the environment. A good alternative solution has come up in the turbulent and pressure period of the traditional transport market.

Diep Nguyen,
Vietnam Logistics Leader at Decathlon.
Helping get sport back on the right track - Map Illustration

The result

Decathlon’s cargo was first transported via rail from Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang to Hanoi. The 23 forty-foot containers arrived in Zhengzhou, China, and were then sent to Liège, Belgium. All cargoes were delivered by trucks to their final destinations in Dourges and Rouvignies, France. This first-ever block train from Vietnam to Europe reached its destination with a much faster transit time compared to the average 45 days via ocean. It also proved to be more affordable than the air freight option.

At Decathlon, our mission is to ’make sport accessible for the many’. The Covid-19 pandemic is a challenging context but also an opportunity to prove our agility in supply chain management. Our willingness to try new solutions with a can-do mindset makes us proud to bring happiness to all sport users.

Lionel Adenot,
Vietnam Country Leader, Decathlon.

Maersk teams in Vietnam, China and Europe collaborated to guarantee the smooth transition and service delivery.

Helping get sport back on the right track - Train, Decathlon Shoe illustration

This first block train from Vietnam to Europe for Decathlon will not only achieve reliable lead times but also provide our customer with improved visibility. This service is also driving synergies between intermodal and rail transport, adding resilience and great value to Decathlon’s supply chain.

Philippe Dunand,
Global Account Director for Decathlon, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Maersk’s tailor-made transportation plan delivered the reliability and peace of mind that Decathlon was looking for. In fact, Maersk’s dedicated block train service for Decathlon traces back to 2017, with its first departure from China. Since then, the company has continued to scale up the intercontinental rail service to help meet the growing demands of its customers. Today, our train services between Asia and Europe serve 30 different countries across multiple routes, both east- and west-bound.

The success of this block train from Vietnam has proven to be a dependable, sustainable and reliable game plan. And more shipments are already being planned via block train to support Decathlon all the way.

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