Full steam ahead for Somarail in Provence

success story
Full steam ahead for Somarail in Provence
15 June 2017 / Business Services, Logistics

Somarail Sud setted up in January 2017 on the Fos industrial park

Somarail, a Dunkirk-based small business that specializes in rail and fixed runway maintenance, opened a subsidiary in southern France in 2017. It chose a location that is convenient to the Fos steel plant of its client ArcelorMittal. Provence Promotion began targeting Somarail Sud because of its hiring policy and its the size of its facility, which was already too small to accommodate the company's growth. The subsidiary covers southern France and works on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea with rail maintenance service contracts at sites in Algeria and Morocco.

From private branch lines and the government-owned RFF network to internal tracks at major seaports and rail lines between gantries and containers, Somarail has carved out a fine spot for itself in the niche market of railway installation and maintenance, a sector in competition with the industry's big names (Eiffage, Vinci, Colas, etc.).

Founded in Dunkirk in 2009 just steps from the ArcelorMittal plant, the company has been expanding its scope of operations ever since.

When Somarail Sud branched out in January 2017, it chose the Fos industrial park, again just down the street from ArcelorMittal. "We go where our customers are. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is great for hosting a company like ours because of the size of the industrial sites. The area around the Étang de Berre has more than 60 miles of railways. The ArcelorMittal Fos site alone has a network of 43 miles and the Marseille-Fos port has 60 miles," notes Sylvain Dezoomer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Somarail.

Somarail Sud to expand to North Africa

The newly formed office already has 10 employees. It expects to close its first year of business with total sales of €2.5 million. "Our five-year goal is to hire 20 employees and reach €4 million annual sales," proclaims Sylvain Dezoomer. To achieve its hiring goal and choose a site, Somarail Sud enjoyed targeted assistance from Provence Promotion, an economic development agency with which Sylvain Dezoomer is well acquainted.

"When I decided to open a site in the south, Provence Promotion gave me precious information about the local ecosystem, the networks and sites that would be suitable for my subsidiary. I was also in touch with Airbus Helicopters and Total. Both companies are able to help us get started through financial assistance mechanisms for job creation and equipment purchases," boasts Sylvain Dezoomer, who is already looking for a new 65,000-square-foot facility.

The businessman is focused on major infrastructure projects associated with the modal shift, such as the joint project at Mourepiane (Marseille), Fos and Toulon and the Clésud expansion overseen by Novatrans (GCA).

Somarail Sud works within a 250-mile radius of Fos, but is eager to cross the Mediterranean. "We are finishing up work on a railroad renovation project in Annaba, which is just a one-hour plane ride from Marseille. In fact, it's our employees at the southern office who are doing the work in Algeria. We have been handling fixed runway maintenance for Taqa Morocco since 2012. We spend four months a year in Morocco," notes Sylvain Dezoomer.

Somarail generates annual sales of €11 million, 30% of which come from exports. The company, which has grown at an annual rate of 20% since its founding, plans to open two new subsidiaries in eastern and central France.