In the grand arena of international relations and with major players, Rogers’ teams play a disciplined and flexible role, always working hard to enhance their performance. The Group keeps on evolving and continues to lead the way in pioneering business development in the Indian Ocean region.

photos : rogers image bank

In 1980, for the first docking of one of its ships, the Italian-Swiss company named Rogers Shipping to be its agent in Mauritius. Six years later, to handle ever-growing traffic, an MSC Mauritius agency was set up, with Rogers as the majority shareholder. The ownership then evolved as the management of MSC in Geneva opted for greater control. Rogers became a minority shareholder but MSC in Mauritius remains one of the Group’s associate companies.

Through its fleet, the shipping line currently provides a regular service for the import and export of containerised goods to and from the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and Mayotte. Ships transiting Port Louis are on routes linking Europe to Australia, Asia to South Africa, and vice versa and engage in coastal shipping in the region. MSC Mauritius represents its parent company as its maritime agent to handle some of its fleet – the second largest in the world with almost 500 container carriers and 12 cruise ships – docking here. The local agency also has the job of making sure the decks and holds are filled with cargo, in other words identifying goods for shipment.

Captain René Sanson

Joint interests

Mauritian docksides are also used by MSC for container transshipment activities. As well as being of value to the port and the regional economy, this also brings business to Velogic. In fact, the company is developing its container station activities, its repair and cleaning services, preparing refined and special sugars, and tuna and textile products for loading, as well as the on-land transport of empty boxes from the depot to the port. For such and other warehousing and handling services, Rogers’ logistics company is currently one of MSC’s main subcontractors in Mauritius.

In its turn, the shipping company provides services to Velogic. Last year it transported 1,463 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu is an international measure of container shipment capacity) for import and 838 teu for export. This represents 4.25% of the total volume handled by MSC Mauritius, which amounted to 54,178 teu in 2010, generating turnover of about 1.3 billion rupees, more than 30 million euros. A little less than 10% was in commission to the local agency, which employs a 78-strong team, led by Captain René Sanson. “With 35 to 40% of the market for exports and imports,” he observes, “MSC is the market leader here. Its leading position has been re-enforced by the growth in our activities in the first half of 2011, which we aim to consolidate. This has been particularly due to transshipment activities on which we are counting to reach our target of 60% of market share”.

MSC’s history with Mauritius and the close ties they have enjoyed for the past thirty years in their long-standing partnership gives a good idea of the economic developments which can result from the effective conduct of a local operator’s sub-contracting activities for a major global company.

The Go-Between

According to René Sanson, who knows the sector inside-out, “Velogic’s main strength lies in its ability to provide an integrated range of services unavailable from other sources, particularly in the preparation of containers for export. It’s a major advantage, enabling the company to position itself as a major logistics operator in business dealings with Mauritius and more widely in the Indian Ocean region and southern Africa”.

Having worked for Rogers for 40 years, the former captain was unwilling to hang up his oilskins. He started out in 1965 and now sails on at the helm of MSC Mauritius. When he was 18, six months before graduating from high school, Rogers’ Director of Shipping promised him a job once he’d finished his schooling. Having passed his exams, he entered service as a cadet.

“I still recall my first crossing to Madagascar as if it were yesterday,” he tells us. “At that time, voyages were very exciting and so unforgettable. We had time to get to know a country and not just the area around the harbour. Distant islands have an exotic flavour, added to the sublime sensation of being alone between the sea and the sky, as well as the intense pleasure of travelling and the profession itself”.

He returned to an office job in Mauritius in 1979 but he really missed the sea.

“However, I was lucky enough to take over an office with a clear view of the ocean, much to the envy of others. It’s such a pleasure to watch the sea light up the bay in Port Louis in the morning and to continue watching the slow movement of ships entering the harbour. I found it easy enough to work for the same company for 41 years and I was fortunate enough to be able to change jobs whilst working in the same sector.

“I moved to MSC as Management felt that I could be useful in building up marine business in Mauritius. When I feel that I have nothing more to offer, I shan’t wait for anyone to tell me to weigh anchor,” he says in conclusion. “I’ll take myself off to dry-dock!” Meanwhile, he remains a member of two venerable British institutions, the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and the Chartered Institute of Transport. René Sanson is the Austrian Honorary Consul since 1986.

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