Benelux, North Africa, Turkey A trade triangle

Opening up into new markets is a decisive factor determining success or failure in the logistics industry these days. In the words used by managing director José Fortuna to describe the move, the launching of the Grupolis Group’s Moroccan activities sounds a bit like a wager:

«On the occasion of a visit to Belgium I suggested collaborating in Morocco to Jean Puech, the president of the French entity MTS/Groupe Timar. Even though his reply – he had not enjoyed a good understanding with a previous Portuguese partner – was not encouraging, he was prepared to test a new partnership.»

After racking up losses in the first six months of business the firms soon managed the first full groupage trucks. Activities have only grown since.

«On the occasion of a visit to Belgium I suggested collaborating in Morocco to Jean Puech, the president of the French entity MTS/Groupe Timar. Even though his reply – he had not enjoyed a good understanding with a previous Portuguese partner – was not encouraging, he was prepared to test a new partnership.»

Mutual trust grew and led to the French partner taking over 70% of the shares of Grupolis in 2008. The step subsequently opened doors to new markets in Senegal, Mauritania and Tunisia.

In the meantime the company’s international activities account for almost all of its sales. Routes link Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, North Africa, Turkey and Switzerland. Over and above this the group also operates scheduled connections to and from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France and England.

A forwarding quartet

In the beginning there was a quartet. It encompassed the Portuguese professionals José Fortuna, Manuel Moreira, Joaquim Pinto and José Lacerda, the founders of the freight forwarding enterprise Grupolis in Porto in 1982. After the beginnings in Freixieiro the forwarder’s Porto headquarters were transferred to Maia. Today Grupolis also has a subsidiary in Lisbon as well as offices in Aveiro and Setúbal.

Pan-European road haulage services were initially at the heart of the undertaking’s activities. Three years ago it added maritime and airfreight solutions to its portfolio. «We’re really pleased that we finally closed that gap,» Fortuna says. The Grupolis’ staff of 45 works in Porto and Lisbon. The corporation has been issued with official authorisation to carry out full in-house customs clearance procedures. Grupolis also has import as well as export certificates from SGS, a Swiss testing and certification firm.

The quality of its work is also certified by the Associação Portuguesa Agentes Transitários (Apat, the Portuguese association of freight forwarding agents), as well as by a certificate issued under the international ISO 9001 standard.

Article by Christian Doepgen, originally published on 12/11/2015 in the Iberia/Latin America special issue of the Internationale Transport Zeitschrift magazine.


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