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First Spain, now France. Is this the death knell for BF?


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Brittany Ferries has sent BFE the following statement, in response to some of the recent media speculation: .

What a great statement and hopefully the prophets of doom will sleep easier tonight. As some of you are aware I'm in a business that relys heavily on ferry companies bringing passengers over to France

You can't magic up freight demand for north western France out of nothing, what a strange view of the world. It can be teased away from the tunnel to some degree but the fact of the travel patterns in

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3 hours ago, Ryan_H said:

Very true. There hasn't been a single UK-owned ferry operator between GB & mainland Europe for many years, has there? Nowadays it is even hard to find any UK-flagged ferries, never mind their owners. 

Market economics is one thing, but it is striking just how little national infrastructure is actually in British hands today - if this model were such a great idea, then it seems odd that it doesn't seem to have been replicated elsewhere, to such a degree, in other similar-sized economies? 

Most if not all are in British hands, foreign operators pay HMG for the franchise and as we've seen most recently with Northern, HMG will essentially nationalise a network when the franchisee is failing ..  in this case Deutsche Bahn.

11 of the 19 rail franchises in the U.K are run by British interests.

 

 

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The Cambridge dictionary has it as meaning:

If an idea or event is stillborn, it is unsuccessful or does not happen.

If related to a new airline it would be an alternative for: 'a project that doesn't get off the ground'.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/english/stillborn&ved=2ahUKEwi7q7qkisvrAhVErxoKHYsICT0QFjAQegQIBRAB&usg=AOvVaw07Lw5BifhCIAx7S-thgnaV&ampcf=1

Ed

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Much as I like BF services, I am astonished at the CEO bemoaning the drop in British travelers - due to the quarantines imposed by the UK government (rightly or wrongly) in the interests of its citizens.

  • He is holding 'millions' of British holidaymakers cash - basically an interest free loan for now
  • What has happened to the extra cash collected last year running (as it turned out) all those additional crossings because of Brexit?
  • Does he seriously expect British holiday makers to carry on regardless of their government advice?
  • Perhaps he needs to invest a little in supporting rather than blaming his clients and their governments for the situation his and many other companies are suffering at this time!

 

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14 minutes ago, nottingham said:

Much as I like BF services, I am astonished at the CEO bemoaning the drop in British travelers - due to the quarantines imposed by the UK government (rightly or wrongly) in the interests of its citizens.

  • He is holding 'millions' of British holidaymakers cash - basically an interest free loan for now
  • What has happened to the extra cash collected last year running (as it turned out) all those additional crossings because of Brexit?
  • Does he seriously expect British holiday makers to carry on regardless of their government advice?
  • Perhaps he needs to invest a little in supporting rather than blaming his clients and their governments for the situation his and many other companies are suffering at this time!

 

Running a ferry operation, even in the best of times, is not exactly a particularly profitable business. If it wasn't for government support Brittany Ferries would be going bust, like most other tourist-related businesses. It's hard to understand why you'd think the boss of the company shouldn't bemoan the situation, the entire ferry industry is on life support.

The Brexit support cash mostly went towards running a bunch of ferries back and forth largely empty, costing fuel and wages. BF will have made a little profit but not a life-changing amount (the government paying Stena for the Stena Nordica to be laid up for six months on the other hand was just a nicely wrapped, gold plated present).

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So glad Brittany Ferries is getting help. If it went bust we'd never see another ferry company in the future, once the pandemic is over a year or two, offer the same level and quality of services. Only Brittany Ferries with its unique funding, ownership and ship owning structure makes what they have offer possible. No wholly private sector company would have the capability or inclination to offer something similiar.

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1 hour ago, Nick Hyde said:

So glad Brittany Ferries is getting help. If it went bust we'd never see another ferry company in the future, once the pandemic is over a year or two, offer the same level and quality of services. Only Brittany Ferries with its unique funding, ownership and ship owning structure makes what they have offer possible. No wholly private sector company would have the capability or inclination to offer something similiar.

Much as I think that there are a lot of things that they could do better I can’t imagine going on holiday any other way with any other company as you say there’s no way we would get anything like them again.

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12 hours ago, nottingham said:

Much as I like BF services, I am astonished at the CEO bemoaning the drop in British travelers - due to the quarantines imposed by the UK government (rightly or wrongly) in the interests of its citizens.

  • He is holding 'millions' of British holidaymakers cash - basically an interest free loan for now
  • What has happened to the extra cash collected last year running (as it turned out) all those additional crossings because of Brexit?
  • Does he seriously expect British holiday makers to carry on regardless of their government advice?
  • Perhaps he needs to invest a little in supporting rather than blaming his clients and their governments for the situation his and many other companies are suffering at this time!

 

The British Government's chaotic handling of Brexit and Covid has created a climate where future planning is almost impossible. Over four years after the EU Referendum, we still have no idea what the final deal (if there is any deal) will look like. BF are not alone - many UK exporters will face a similar struggle.

 

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4 hours ago, Tregastel said:

The British Government's chaotic handling of Brexit and Covid has created a climate where future planning is almost impossible. Over four years after the EU Referendum, we still have no idea what the final deal (if there is any deal) will look like. BF are not alone - many UK exporters will face a similar struggle.

 

I wasn't intending to invite a political comment, I said "rightly or wrongly" I fully appreciate that BF are not in control of the situation in respect of the pandemic or Brexit,  particularly in respect of quarantine impositions which have affected them so badly.  However they are sitting on a lot of their customers hard earned cash for the time being. I suspect a lot of the RCNs will be redeemed in due course, but I find my loyalty eroded somewhat - it would help if there was some incentive was put on the table for when better times return! 

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BF is a French Company serving a mainly UK clientelle. If I was a French taxpayer I might look rather askance at bailing out what I might easily view merely as  basically a job creation scheme for mariners especially if I then found out just how the majority of the twelve ships are financed. The plain fact is that BF have been running too many ferries on too many routes making too little money for years. I suspect that's simply because there is very little money to be made. The CEO may have reason to ask for help but when a business has so many of its eggs in one basket there are questions to be asked about resilience and investment decisions when the customer base is so limited. 

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27 minutes ago, Millsy said:

BF is a French Company serving a mainly UK clientelle. If I was a French taxpayer I might look rather askance at bailing out what I might easily view merely as  basically a job creation scheme for mariners especially if I then found out just how the majority of the twelve ships are financed. The plain fact is that BF have been running too many ferries on too many routes making too little money for years. I suspect that's simply because there is very little money to be made. The CEO may have reason to ask for help but when a business has so many of its eggs in one basket there are questions to be asked about resilience and investment decisions when the customer base is so limited. 

I agree Millsy..What did shock me though was the fact that their share of freight, a must for any shipping company, is only about 15% of their volume. The overwhelming part of their business plan being reliant on passenger traffic from the UK. They need to woo a lot more freight..I`ve said before that I think that market certainly to France has declined over the years and BF are at the mercy of a fickle market. Thats exactly what Union Castle Line found when the 747 came along and ate their lunch all those years ago.

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You can't magic up freight demand for north western France out of nothing, what a strange view of the world. It can be teased away from the tunnel to some degree but the fact of the travel patterns in this sector is just that, a fact.

The fundamental difference here is that BF is viewed as a public service rather than a private operator which must make profits or achieve industry standard load factors.

If your starting point is that every decision must be commercial than yes BF's strategic decisions will often seem odd. But that would be to apply a fundamentally wrong, rather Anglo-centric lens through which to view them. The 'French tax payer', fortunately, takes a very different view of the social and economic benefits of a ferry operator bringing tourists to their country. 

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1 hour ago, hhvferry said:

You can't magic up freight demand for north western France out of nothing, what a strange view of the world. It can be teased away from the tunnel to some degree but the fact of the travel patterns in this sector is just that, a fact.

The fundamental difference here is that BF is viewed as a public service rather than a private operator which must make profits or achieve industry standard load factors.

If your starting point is that every decision must be commercial than yes BF's strategic decisions will often seem odd. But that would be to apply a fundamentally wrong, rather Anglo-centric lens through which to view them. The 'French tax payer', fortunately, takes a very different view of the social and economic benefits of a ferry operator bringing tourists to their country. 

We should be pleased as ferry enthusiasts that the French state are investing in the Brittany Ferries high quality ferry model. Quite simply without Brittany Ferries in today's Easyjet and Channel Tunnel world there'd be near zero ferry operations in the western channel without BF.

Edited by Nick Hyde
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What everyone is missing is the money BF's customers bring to Brittany and Normandy, if the local Governments subsidise them they are bringing money to the region, ask Chris how much he makes from BF indirectly.  It's off topic but an example from the past, on paper Cornish Tin mines did not make any money but the mine owners also supplied the mines with Coal etc and ran the transport of materials in and Tin ore out, so the profit wasn't in mining but owning the subsidiary businesses.  Remember BF started to transport the farmers produce, not to make money as a ferry company, the profit was in the produce carried.

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6 minutes ago, Solo said:

What everyone is missing is the money BF's customers bring to Brittany and Normandy, if the local Governments subsidise them they are bringing money to the region, ask Chris how much he makes from BF indirectly.  It's off topic but an example from the past, on paper Cornish Tin mines did not make any money but the mine owners also supplied the mines with Coal etc and ran the transport of materials in and Tin ore out, so the profit wasn't in mining but owning the subsidiary businesses.  Remember BF started to transport the farmers produce, not to make money as a ferry company, the profit was in the produce carried.

Don't forget that the reason that Chris and Fred had to open up in Cherbourg was because IF pulled out of Roscoff

Edited by colinschandler
typo
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1 hour ago, David Williams said:

With an increasing number of ferries just touching France for a crew change !

which presumably puts different profit expectations on these routes, otherwise the French taxpayer is mainly subsidising foreign economies?

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35 minutes ago, colinschandler said:

Don't forget that the reason that Chris and Fred had to open up in Cherbourg was because IF pulled out of Roscoff

Oscar Wilde's sailings to Roscoff were seasonal and and then only every other one from Rosslare. You could use the same analogy for Cherbourg as the ferry stopped sailing there too cutting I.F's services by 50%.

I'm more inclined to think that BF's decision to suspend all services to Roscoff over the winter was more detrimental.

...but yeah, I see your point.

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1 hour ago, Solo said:

What everyone is missing is the money BF's customers bring to Brittany and Normandy, if the local Governments subsidise them they are bringing money to the region, ask Chris how much he makes from BF indirectly.  It's off topic but an example from the past, on paper Cornish Tin mines did not make any money but the mine owners also supplied the mines with Coal etc and ran the transport of materials in and Tin ore out, so the profit wasn't in mining but owning the subsidiary businesses.  Remember BF started to transport the farmers produce, not to make money as a ferry company, the profit was in the produce carried.

Last summer, I stopped at a town in N. Spain called in Jaca, on the foothills of Pyrenees. It was a Thursday night, the town was heaving with tourists who were filling up the cafes, bars, pensions and hotels. A lot of the tourists were English speaking who from earshot we also mentioning words like "boat" "Santander" and "Bilbao". Of course, these were BF customers...

I remember thinking to myself, some of these autonomous regions of Northern Spain should be giving Brittany Ferries a subvention for landing all these tourists on their doorstep. It's probably not going to happen. But the economic of benefits which BF bring to France and Spain far outweigh any revenue earned by ticket prices.

 

Edited by zuludelta
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