3 Questions for Philippe Prétat
CEO of DHL Express France

Philippe PRETAT, PDG de DHL Express France

DHL Express France, the global leader for express worldwide shipping, has a 43 percent market share in France. CEO Philippe Prétat is working towards more sustainable delivery practices and setting up tools to help fashion brands expand internationally. 

What are the logistics challenges for the fashion industry? 

Fashion is moving faster and faster. Brands have gone from two collections a year to over 50 with new designs presented every day. The phenomenon is in sync with the explosive growth of ecommerce. For example, 51 percent of products and services purchased in the apparel sector happen via ecommerce. And it’s important to add an interesting figure to that: over 50 percent of online fashion purchases are returned, compared to 9 percent in traditional shopping. This shows how much fashion businesses need express shipping. As the leader working in over 220 countries and territories and 500 airports, we have a range of very impressive solutions to meet all situations. We’re also aware that this increasing demand for shipping has an impact on the carbon footprint, and 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions currently come from the fashion industry. That’s why we’re working on more sustainable solutions with a very ambitious target: zero emissions in 2050. At heart of these efforts are the last-mile deliveries. They’re critical. 

Some of our trucks are already electric, which means that 26 percent of our deliveries – from the first to the last mile – are 100 percent green. Our objective is to have a fleet that will be 75 percent clean in 2025 and 59 percent clean in 2024, and we’re making great progress. For example, our Gennevilliers site is the starting point for 105 routes that are 100 percent green. To handle the last mile, many deliveries are made by bike, delivery tricycle, or public transit. To make that happen, we’ve set up partnerships with very agile startups like Urb-it or the neighborhood network developer Pickme. 

Of course, air transportation is a key issue. Our global fleet includes 320 airplanes, so we decided to make major investments in sustainable aviation fuel, and last March we signed a partnership with British Petroleum and Neste, which produce sustainable fuels. The DHL Group’s goal is to use 30 percent sustainable fuel for air transportation by 2023, which represents a €7 billion investment. And finally, when it’s time to replace planes, we choose less energy-intensive crafts, such as the Staples7. We’ve also ordered 12 Alice electric cargo planes. 

What are DHL’s solutions for helping fashion designers develop internationally? 

For decades we have used our savoir-faire to help fashion professionals do business outside their borders. We have extraordinary power in terms of international transportation and extensive experience. With 120,000 employees and 3 million clients around the world, our expertise is incontestable. We are quick, flexible, and reliable, all big pluses for the customized solutions required by big and small fashion entrepreneurs, whether designers, retailers, big brands, or luxury artisans. We provide weekend deliveries and insurance for specific types of merchandise for every size business. And, more importantly, we’ve established a consulting service for customs regulations. That’s often a difficult subject for brands, especially the smaller structures that usually don’t have an in-house shipping manager. We help them with in-depth information on the topic. DHL Express has 3,500 employees in France, and 300 of them are customs specialists; so we have solid knowledge on the subject. We’ve even published a guide on international ecommerce for the fashion industry. It covers traffic, the markets affected, shipping strategy basics, and more. And lastly, to support young French brands, we’ve partnered with the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin to create an award for fashion designers. 

Would you tell us about the Prix Talent Mode International? 

We launched the competition last year. There’s just one requirement to enter: you have to be a French fashion brand. Of course, a good pitch and solid business plan help! Last year 80 candidates applied, and the winner was the ready-to-sleep brand 71bis. That choice was based on the brand’s creativity and potential for international expansion. First prize is a €10,000 credit for DHL express shipping, coaching on international shipping, and help with online sales strategies – all very concrete tools to help small fashion businesses grow. Applications for the 2nd edition of the Prix Talent Mode International will be accepted until 4 November 2022. 

To apply for the Prix Talent Mode International 

portail.dhl.fr/partenariat-dhl-x-la-federation-francaise-du-pret-a-porter-feminin