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La Palette Rouge: Pioneering Ecological Pallet Pooling

By Donna Ahern
La Palette Rouge: Pioneering Ecological Pallet Pooling

LPR (La Palette Rouge) provides reusable pallets and their associated logistics services to manufacturers and distributors in the FMCG and retail sectors throughout Europe. Here, LPR’s commercial director, Diane Carroll and head of business development, Ireland, Bronagh Sproule, talk about their plans for the Irish market in 2021.

With over 125 depots in 15 countries around Europe, LPR’s key services include supply chain management, warehousing and distribution, and digital services. Their pallet pooling services offer customers a fully outsourced solution, with pallets that are compatible with automated production and picking systems.

“LPR is a European pallet pooler that prides itself on providing the best quality wooden pallets to the FMCG sector,” says Bronagh. “By pallet pooler we mean that we operate a pallet rental system where we retain ownership of our quality certified pallets.

LPR manages the complete supply chain for your pallet use and optimises deliveries and collections, where possible.”

Diane says that, unlike their competitors, they only work with FMCG customers. “For that reason, we are fully accepted by retailers in Ireland, the UK and beyond.”

LPR, a division of Euro Pool Group, was founded in France in 1992, but it has been operating in Ireland since 2004 and its presence has grown to include Britvic (Ballygowan), Nestlé, Kellogg’s and Glenpatrick Spring Water.

“One of the things I was surprised to note when I joined LPR in 2019 was that we did not have as great a presence in Ireland as I would have expected,” she says. “This led to some exploratory work later in 2019 and into 2020, which reinforced my belief that we could bring excellent quality and superb service to the Ireland marketplace. After some initial success, we made the decision to invest in a ‘relaunch,’ and this is the reason that Bronagh has come on board.”

Q: What feedback have you been getting from speaking to customers in Ireland?

Bronagh: The customers that I’ve met with so far have been very welcoming and almost relieved to meet with me. I feel that people are happy to see that there is a credible alternative and sustainable solution for the Irish market.

One of the aspects of working with LPR that I think will continue to make us successful is sustainability. Sustainability is hugely important to Irish businesses and LPR already aligns with the wishes of manufacturers who aim to make sustainable choices within their supply chain, as well as their product development.

Q: LPR operates a circular process. Can you tell us more about that and the environmental benefits for companies that use your services?

White pallet use is still really popular in Ireland – pallets are purchased and shipped and that is the end of the process. Using LPR pallets is the ultimate when it comes to embracing the circular economy. You order the pallets, you use the pallets, you tell us where you have shipped the pallets to, and we go and collect them and prepare them to be used again. It is a very ecologically sound process – and it is far more cost effective.

Even among pallet poolers, LPR is the only one to receive the Ecovadis Platinum award, putting us in the top 1% of sustainable businesses across Europe. At the end of each pallet’s usable life, every element gets recycled – the wood is recycled into biomass, pet bedding, and a range of other things - even the nails are recycled!

Q: You say that LPR pallets have full retailer acceptance. What does that mean?

Bronagh: There’s a common misconception in the market that LPR pallets are not accepted by the Irish retailers – and that’s wrong! We have full retailer acceptance, which means that we are accepted in Dunnes Stores, Musgrave, Tesco, etc – pretty much everywhere. In fact, we have 1,000 drop points where our pallets are accepted in Ireland.

Diane: Aside from that full retailer acceptance, at the moment we have two service centres in the Republic of Ireland and one in Northern Ireland. We have worked with Goggins Transport, our Irish partner, for over 10 years. Goggins offer a friendly local service, with long standing experience of the market. As well as understanding the complexity of pallet inspection and repair, just as well as we do ourselves, they deliver exceptional service to our customers.

In 2021, LPR and Goggins are planning a move to the north of Dublin City. The new site will include a heat treatment kiln to allow for heat treatment post Brexit and will see us double our capacity in Ireland. We are planning for the new site to be up and running well ahead of the Christmas stock build.

Q: What are your priorities for the business in 2021?

Bronagh: Bakery and beverage are already key sectors for us, but any product within the FMCG sector can benefit from using our best quality pallets that have been designed for automated systems.

Diane: What we have seen post COVID-19 is the enhanced focus on automation. We know that this is an area where we can really add value. We work with businesses who already have automation, and with those that are looking to invest in automation, and we offer advice and assistance on selection and set up.

One of the great things about LPR pallets is that we do not use composite blocks, which can warp and breakdown when exposed to the elements. This change in specification can lead to pallets becoming stuck in automation, leading to downtime and damage. LPR only uses virgin wood in its pallet blocks, which means that they retain their original specification, shape and height.

Q: What do you regard as the cornerstones of the LPR business?

Diane: The LPR operation revolves around three key themes - quality, simplicity and transparency. Our pallet pooling services offer customers a fully outsourced solution, with high-quality pallets that are entirely compatible with automated production and picking systems. Working with us is simple and hassle free, and our pricing structure is transparent and easy to understand.

Q: What is coming next for LPR in Ireland?

Diane: We are delighted to have experienced some great growth in Ireland already in 2021. We have already signed up three new customers and have a fourth significant name due to go live at the end of March. We are looking forward to sharing that news with you!

Britvic Chooses LPR As Its Pallet Pooler For Ireland

LPR was recently selected to be Britvic plc’s pallet pooler for Ireland. Well known in Ireland for both its long established brands, including Ballygowan, MiWadi, Club, TK and Cidona, as well as global brands such as Pepsi, 7UP and Mountain Dew (under licence from PepsiCo), Britvic invited LPR to participate in a formal tender for its Irish and UK pallet pooling business in 2019.

As part of its tender submission, LPR ensured that its offering included a pricing structure that demonstrated good value for money and was supported by a number of value-added initiatives. In addition, the submission outlined how LPR would meet demand and provide hassle free, commercial simplicity. Given the demand by Britvic for a superior

quality pallet, LPR were able to showcase how its industry leading pallet quality would feed into production facilities in both automated and manual handling environments, and how this would positively impact Britvic’s manufacturing processes, and its supply chain.

“I was really impressed by LPR’s handling both of the implementation process, and the subsequent roll out,” said Raymond Galligan, head of logistics and demand supply planning – supply chain, Britvic Ireland.

“The feedback from my team has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly in respect of LPR’s pallet quality. The change- over has been a great success and long may it continue!”

Diane Carroll, commercial director, LPR UK & Ireland said it had been a pleasure to work with the team at Britvic Ireland.

“From the first virtual meeting, through to the first load of pallets being electronically ordered and then delivered, we have worked together in a truly collaborative way, which is an absolute necessity given our inability to physically meet in the current pandemic,” she said. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership!”

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