French-headquartered logistics and distribution provider Bolloré Logistics has been steadily increasing its footprint in Korean life sciences in recent years – attaining international certifications to assure potential partners of their commitment to quality and working closely with some of the country’s top domestic conglomerates as they make the move into healthcare.
The healthcare industry has always been very conservative because any operational change is always a potential risk, more so than in any other industry
Seals of Approval
For Thibault Janssens, Bolloré Logistics Korea’s managing director, gaining international certifications has been a key pillar of the company’s successful recent pivot towards the life sciences. He explains, “We can, of course, show general KPIs and other business quality reviews, but that does not adequately show the quality of our services to potential future customers. Therefore, the best way to achieve an even better reputation is through obtaining international certifications. Last year, we achieved a milestone by being the first transport and logistics company in South Korea to independently achieve the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma).”
Janssens continues, “The healthcare industry has always been very conservative because any operational change is always a potential risk, more so than in any other industry. Being CEIV certified shows the industry that we have the same concerns and that we speak the same language… It has also allowed us to build a unique positioning, giving us a competitive advantage not only to attract potential new customers but to further strengthen our relationships with existing ones.”
This strategy has already borne fruit, with Bolloré Logistics’ pharma operations jumping from 15 to 20 percent as a share of the company’s overall business and expected to reach 25 percent in the next few years.
Getting Chummy with the Chaebols
Korea’s ‘chaebols’ – the large family-owned conglomerates that represent around 65 percent of the Korean economy – have been making moves into healthcare in recent years. Many of these companies, anticipating the end of their cycle of dominance in high-tech products, have identified biopharma as a potential growth engine and have poured money into R&D and manufacturing capabilities.
Bolloré Logistics has been on top of this trend and positioned itself as a key partner in the chaebols’ march into healthcare. As Janssens explains, “If a company in Korea wants to grow, they have to work with the chaebols. They are following the same aggressive methods and strategies that made them successful in IT, automotive, entertainment, and cosmetics.”
He concludes, “Although many European and American pharma companies have been importing into Korea for a long time, Korean chaebols have only more recently started to build up their international pharma operations. We felt we could create value for them and fulfil their needs by bringing quality solutions and by doing it the Korean way: quick, reliable and price competitive.”