(Yicai Global) Oct. 31 -- A 'special China-Europe freight train' custom-built for French sporting goods retailer Decathlon S.A. departs from Wuhan in central China's Hubei province to carry Chinese goods and products to the Belt and Road and other European markets. It travels along the 'One Belt, One Road' route and reach its destination , Tulce port in Poland, in less than three weeks.
The first China-Europe freight rail route started operation on March 19, 2011, and more than 5,000 journeys have been carried out on the route so far. The central government introduced a Central European through train service connecting China with Lyon in France on April 6, 2016. Several companies have transported products to France via the service to date.
Decathlon saw a two-fold rise in freight volume following the introduction of the China-Europe freight train service. The service has significant implications in terms of boosting exports of products 'made in China' to European countries and improving Chinese manufacturers' competitiveness on the global markets. It has a growing appeal for export-oriented businesses in the Yangtze River and the Pearl River deltas. The French retailer increased the proportion of products sourced in eastern Chinese coastal cities by 15 percent and transported via Wuhan last year, the firm's statistics show.
The Wuhan-Tulce special through train route was specially developed by Damco and Wuhan Asia-Europe Logistics in line with Decathlon's retail transportation needs. As the first China-Europe through train route custom-designed for a specific company, the 10,815-km rail line allows the firm to transport China-made own brand sporting goods such as sports clothing and equipment and creative products from Wuhan to the Tulce port in Poland via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Germany along the 'One Belt, One Road' trade corridor. The products are then transferred to Decathlon's Tulce regional logistics center before they are delivered to local stores in France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Poland and Romania.
The non-stop through train journey lasts 16 to 18 days under favorable circumstances, which is about 30 days shorter than the traditional sea routes. Nearly 50 percent saving of transportation time will translate into proportionate logistics cost savings for exporters and retailers.
Decathlon derives its competitive edge from an effective internal operations framework that covers the entire industry chain. In recent years, it successfully improved customer stickiness by continuously marking down products through efficient cost control without affecting profit margins. The 50 percent cost cut in international logistics operations will give the firm greater scope for making its prices more competitive in the marketplace.