French stevadore firm goes into liquidation, creating a challenge for Condor
CONDOR’S St Malo operations face a period of uncertainty as the company which provides its freight and foot passenger baggage services at the port has been placed into liquidation.
After persistent industrial and strike action over several years, causing disruption to Condor and other port users, St Malo Manutention is ceasing operations and will be wound up by a French court as it has been declared insolvent.
While the border with France has been closed, Condor has been operating a weekly round freight service between Portsmouth, Guernsey, Jersey and St Malo using the Commodore Goodwill. The St Malo leg has had to be cancelled for this weekend. Condor is also scheduled to resume passenger sailings between Jersey and St Malo on Friday.
Condor’s Executive Director – Operations, Elwyn Dop said the situation was extremely frustrating and inconvenient, but said the ferry operator was working extremely hard to make alternative arrangements.
‘The past few years have seen disruption for our freight customers and passengers, often at very short notice, so it is now very disappointing to learn that SMM, the sole stevedore company in St Malo, is to close,' he said.
The situation was regrettable as it currently impacted on freight sailings through the port and was also beyond Condor's control.
'There is an awful irony in that having not been able to operate any high speed passenger services for four months due to Covid, we could conceivably see a resumption from Guernsey and Jersey this summer affected by industrial action in St Malo, causing delays and cancellations,' he said
SMM is a not-for-profit firm and has five shareholders - Bolloré Ports, Brittany Ferries, L’Agence Maritime Malouine, Morvan Fils and Timac, all of whom hold 20% of the shares. The sale of Condor was confirmed in March with Columbia Threadneedle and Brittany Ferries buying the firm from the Macquarie Group.
Mr Dop said Condor was with liaising other port users, St Malo Port Authority, the Brittany region and the Préfet to find a solution as a matter of urgency.