Saturday , August 20 2022

Why SNCF passes the Ouibus point to BlaBlaCar



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One less source of losses for SNCF, a new future for BlaBlaCar and a global solution for all those who can not afford a train or a single car: an unexpected marriage of the automotive giant and SNCF's OuiBus has something to satisfy everyone!

After six years of existence and not more than 200 million accumulated losses at the counter, the subsidiary of "Cars Macron" SNCF has not been a brilliant success yet: it certainly harmonizes the 12-million-dollar imposition of its launch – and has won a major share in this new market , which shares with almost the same German Flickbus. Both have 45% of the market after the bankruptcy or closure of other competitors. Only a small "Isilines", a subsidiary of Transdev, still plays spoilsports. But three players in this market, it is still another for players to find their profitability.

Has SNCF's role started this expensive struggle and lost valuable resources in its core business? Guillaume Pepi's strategy was challenging internally, it became unsustainable after developing the discount of Iesgo trains – direct OuiBus competitors at comparable prices – and even more after the parliamentary reform last year: from now on SNCF has to focus on returning to its feet and preparing is to open competition in its main market. That is why it stands in line with this activity, that BlaBlaCar gives a secret sum (but it would not be very difficult for rumors: not more than twenty million euros).

The buyer is surprised: BlaBlaCar was launched in 2004 under the name "covoiturage.fr", which fully described its activity. BlaBlaCar is undoubtedly what has been produced by "French Tech" for 15 years: the company created by Frederic Mazzell, Francis Nappez and Nicolas Brusson has become the world's leading player in this business.

"We have 65 million members on Earth, and this year we have organized 50 million trips, which shows an annual growth of 40%," says Nicolas Brusson, General Manager.

Its algorithm regulates the movement of drivers and their passengers in 22 countries, and investors believe it: since its inception, this "unicorn" worth more than a billion euros has raised 300 million euros, which is huge on the scale of French start-ups. But in recent years, she has encountered several difficulties in her development and a search for profitability, which she finally reached in October.

The first difficulty was the development of trainers from Macron, these deregulated bus lines that allow connecting, for not too much, most of the French cities. The growth of these lines has seriously slowed down the participation of cars. The launch of OuiGo trains by SNCF was an additional test. At the same price, or even lower, the bus or train will always be more comfortable than the car. Another trap met by BlaBlaCar: the difficulty of positioning it on a "professional trunk", one that works for short distances between employees to go to work. Once contacted by a service called "BlaBlaLines", these employees who are traveling each day no longer have any interest in paying a commission to start: they work among themselves to make up for it. BlaBlaCar's business model can be used only at long distances or occasional travelers.

rocking chair

The horizon of the beginning was expanded last year thanks to a long strike by SNCF: users have returned massively to their application. Another good news: she started trading on a bus. First in Russia, where it already operates in the carpool market, but has remained free in its core business, as in all countries outside of continental Europe (Brazil, Ukraine, Mexico …). Then in France, in favor of the strike, she successfully launched some buses, in cooperation with … Ouibus.

Its founders decided to make a big momentum and buy their main competitor in the French market: IesBus. "These two jobs are complementary: on the one hand, traveling from door to door with car, on the other, traveling by bus," says Nicolas Brusson.

This is a great development opportunity for him: buses will be launched from 2019 in all other countries of Western Europe, probably under the brand BlaBlabus and internationalization that will make it profitable. Company. When SNCF tried to charge its buses, BlaBlaCar possesses magical weapons: thanks to its millions of users, it has been able to accurately quantify large flows of traffic and traffic throughout the world, and which periods remain unmet by needs. He will be able to program his buses without the risk of circulating them empty. And where SNCF has lost luck, it can be hoped that it will be easier to achieve a financial balance.

In exchange for this purchase, SNCF will, together with other shareholders, participate in the capital increase of the company of 100 million euros, which will finance the development of a new bus network. Accordingly, SNCF should receive 5% of the start-up capital according to "Le Parisien". On the commercial side, it will not lose much: it will integrate travel offers and tourist agencies Blablabus into its tourist agency "Yes SNCF": this will allow all customers to have a choice between all the prices, the cheapest, carpool, more expensive, TGV Inoui. "This movement is strategic," explains Rachel Picard, who directs the main lines of SNCF. "We make life and travel easier for all our customers: he will have all the choices in one location."

This new organization should also create two companies that share market displacement: on the one hand, SNCF will now focus exclusively on the train at relatively high rates (except for OuiGo), and the other BlaBlaCar will fight to meet the needs of all those who do not I can – or more – pay TGV, but they still move easily.

Claude Soula

Claude Soula

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