Logistics in Europe: Main Issues and Operators' Strategies

Logistics in Europe: Main Issues and Operators' Strategies


V Carbone, IRAT-CNR, IT



In the last twenty years logistics in Europe has been marked by significant changes, which have subsequently affected operators? behaviours in the market. Such changes derive from three kinds of factors. Firstly, macroeconomic factors (globalisation, new trade patterns, etc.) act as centralising forces throughout the world insofar as both manufacturing companies and suppliers of services are concerned. Secondly transport and logistics legislation both at European and national levels has undergone a substantial deregulation even though a complete harmonisation, especially in social and fiscal terms, has not yet been reached. Finally new models of management and distribution are changing the order of importance of the different critical success factors in the transport and logistics sector. Supply chain management calls for a deeper involvement of logisticians in forging the international supply chains; the future of e-business development will see the entry of new competitors in the market. Both these models, intended as new business models, require strong competencies in information and communication technologies also on the side of the logistics service provider.

Against this background, the aim of the present contribution is to point out logistics operators? reactionsin terms of adopted strategic options in order to cope with such changes. By analysing empirical sources of all types of strategies in the sector adopted by 20 of the main European logistics firms duringin the period 1999-2001 and linking them to industrial economics, a picture of the current competition in the sector will be depicted.

Specifically, the tendency of Companies to achieve adequate dimensions so as to survive global competition, as well as the spread of logistics alliances between operators and clients and between operators themselves, will be highlighted. In addition, the increasing diversification toward logistics pursued by all kinds of operators (Hauliers, Integrators and National Posts) will be explored and interpreted in the light of the current competitive situation in the market.

This contribution represents a further step in the study "Perspectives stratégiques et financières des prestataires logistiques en Europe", conducted by the author and concluded in December 2001, edited by "Les Echos-Eurostaf" a leading French company in the field of strategic and financial sectoral studies. The information used for the paper derives from previous research and studies carried out in the field by European Universities and Consulting firms, interviews personally conducted with top managers of the main European Logistics Companies and participation to conferences and seminars.


Association for European Transport