Logistics and transport specialist MGE establishes a strong foothold in Provence by acquiring three SMEs

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Logistics and transport specialist MGE establishes a strong foothold in Provence by acquiring three SMEs
Philippe Virtel, President of MGE
13 March 2024 / Buy a company, invest in provence, Logistics

A leader in the modal transfer to greener forms of transportation, MGE is forecasting strong growth in the south of France.

In June 2023, MGE, which is based in Vosges in northeastern France, acquired three companies based in Provence: Transports Ottaviani, Mécasud, and Provence Parachèvement. With these bases of operations close to its industrial and chemical clients, the independent family business intends to seize the opportunities offered as the industrial sector undergoes major transformations. MGE will focus on expanding railway transport to forge closer links between the Grand Est (Lorraine) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions of France. The long working relationship between Philippe Virtel, the President of MGE, and Provence Promotion has helped ensure the company will have an important presence in the Aix-Marseille metro area.

After ten years of prospecting, the French logistics and transport company MGE set up shop in Cabriès near Marseille in 2023. “Our customers – chemical industries, general cargo companies, and bulk materials manufacturers – are based in the industrial port zone in the Aix-Marseille-Fos triangle,” says Philippe Virtel, the President of MGE, which is a historical transport leader that was founded in 1882.

MGE’s move to the Aix-Marseille started small when Provence Promotion alerted the company to an opportunity to buy a parking area that semi-trailer trucks used when they travelled from the northeast to the south of France. Once MGE had this foothold, they began looking to acquire local businesses that would further strengthen the company’s position in the territory.

“Thanks to the Provence Promotion network, I was able to meet a number of industrial companies based around the Étang de Berre. The agency was extremely proactive, helping to make our integration into this ecosystem even easier,” says Virtel.

MGE took over three companies in June 2023: Transports Ottaviani, which specialises in the industrial transport of heavy bulk goods; Provence Parachèvement, which specialises in bulk storage; and Mécasud, which specialises in mechanical engineering, boiler making, and container washing. The three companies have a total of 80 full-time equivalent employees. “I want to grow these three companies, help them expand, and support the paradigm shift in this region, all while deepening links with the north of France,” explains Virtel, a staunch supporter of the decarbonisation of industry and transport.

“Modal transfer is in our DNA.”

A member of the Medlink association, which works to develop multimodal transport on the Mediterranean-Rhône-Saône axis, MGE has been committed to road-rail transport for 15 years. Its ambition is to generate 10% of its transport revenues by using mass transit modes. This shift from traditional transport methods to alternatives that require less energy is known as modal transfer within the logistic sector.

“Modal transfer is in our DNA and we want to accelerate the energy transition and support this change in the industry. After creating our own HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) biofuel distribution network, we are now working on building up our fleet of electric semi-trailer trucks. Also, in 2023, we created MGE INTERMODAL, managed by Magali Fourriques from the south of France. This subsidiary organises rail and river traffic. It is both a freight forwarder and a consultancy firm that advises industrial companies,” explains Virtel

Virtel followed in his father’s footsteps as president of the company and has been at the head of the family business for 37 years. He is now committed to preparing his daughter to run the company one day. Juliette Virtel, who is 26, has just been appointed Head of Performance and Innovation for MGE. “Her role is to ensure that the company maintains a high level of performance, and she is working on issues such as our carbon footprint, our CSR policies, and the quality of life at work,” adds Virtel.

MGE has 15 sites in France, 80 000 square meters of warehouse space, and 530 semi-trailer trucks. The company employs 760 people and generated revenues of €112 million last year, a figure that is expected to increase to €125 million this year. Now 142 years old, MGE has embraced the challenge of always being ahead of the times.