There's a lot of hair in this world, and somebody's got to comb it, curl it and brush it.
BaByliss, a personal-care products manufacturer and distributor, seems quite content to take on the job. From a distribution center in Iwuy, France, hundreds of shipments leave daily for most western and central nations of continental Europe, and to Scandinavia and Russia. There are exports to 40 other countries as well from the facility. The United Kingdom is served by another BaByliss subsidiary, all of which is part of Stamford, Conn.-based Conair. Since 1959, Conair has developed worldwide reach in the personal-care and healthcare small appliances market. While its suppliers make a wide variety of dryers, curling irons and other hair care items, its product line extends to mirrors, facial care, even bath mats. Conair also owns the Cuisinart brand of kitchen appliances.
Conair acquired BaByliss in 1995, according to Ivan Petit, transportation manager at Iwuy. Four years later, a 150,000-square-foot warehouse was built in Iwuy, in North France, near the Belgian border. The DC was doubled in size in 2003, he says.
The BaByliss product line mostly originates in various Chinese factories, but items are made in Costa Rica and Italy as well, Petit says. Everything is shipped to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, less than 100 kilometers away.
An estimated 1,800 TEUs are received at the warehouse each year. On average, goods are five days in transit by truck from Zeebrugge to the DC. There, shipments are subject to BaByliss quality control inspections, then packed and palletized for shipment.
Iwuy is an SAP operation, but outbound cargo is largely controlled by the PkMS warehouse management solution from Manhattan Associates. There are daily departures for Europe. Foreign exports generally have weekly schedules.
The busiest periods for BaByliss are April to May, which includes Mother's Day, and the Christmas season, which runs from October to December. Customers are not end users, of course, but professional salons, distributors and retailers.
Orders can be picked by pallet, carton or piece. Those orders, from sales departments of every BaByliss agent or subsidiary in the countries served from Iwuy, must come in by 5 p.m. Depending on the SKU, products may go directly to customers' warehouses or direct to store.
ABX Logistics is in charge of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and most of Italy, according to Petit. GEFCO handles Spain, Portugal, Holland, Germany and a small part of Italy. France Express and Mory Team are in charge of shipments throughout France.
The real growth potential is in Russia and the Mideast, Petit says. In the latter case, four to 10 containers a month go the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and Iran combined.
Sales and imports in some of those countries are handled by agents, but that's certain to change. "As volume grows, creating our own warehouses will be warranted in those countries," Petit says. " We will go from sales offices to subsidiaries, and from shipping to importers to directly to customers."
BaByliss traditionally had a strong presence in northern Europe, including a research and development facility in Belgium and a small factory there, Petit says. So, the question is, why Iwuy in North France? How did that become the locale for the distribution operation? In fact, he notes, the company initially considered Holland because of its ports. "But when it was realized that the workforce would be harder working and more economical here in North France, and with the highway system that links the area to all of Europe, it was decided to locate here."
Visit www.babylisspro.com, www.locatenorthfrance.com/ www.nfx.fr, www.manh.com, www.sap.com, www.gefco.co.uk, www.abxlogistics.com, www.france-express.com, www.morygroup.com
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