Case for a French freight route ‘remains strong’ despite firm’s collapse

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THE case for an expanded supply route from St Malo ‘remains strong’ despite the collapse of a southern freight service, the Economic Development Minister has said.

Deputy Kirsten Morel spoke after Nostos Marine co-founder Pierre Vennin confirmed that the business had been placed into receivership, having operated only six trips between the French port and Jersey.

It was previously hoped that the company’s 55-metre Norwegian-built vessel – Southern Liner – would transport goods regularly to the Channel Islands, after Mr Vennin and Thibaut Eude established the service at the start of 2022.

Increasing freight capacity from France is something Deputy Morel has said could help reduce the impact of ferry cancellations and keep supermarket shelves stocked, partially because the waters between Jersey and St Malo are better protected than the English Channel.

The Southern Liner, which has a carrying capacity of around 800 tonnes, would have contributed to such an expansion, primarily transporting construction and agricultural materials as well as consumer goods.

Deputy Morel maintained that ‘the case for a dedicated southern route remains strong’ despite Nostos Marine going into receivership in November.

‘I know there is still very much interest both from groups seeking to operate on the southern route and retailers seeking to import goods,’ he said.

‘It is a real shame about Nostos and I praise the people behind it for trying and showing their entrepreneurial spirit,’ he added.

He noted that, out of 350,000 tonnes of goods imported to Jersey last year, 0.5% came to Jersey via the southern route from mainland France.

Mr Vennin said it was ‘ultimately financial difficulties that led to the company going down’, but did not wish to comment further.

However, he did maintain that the southern route was still a ‘viable option’ for expanding Jersey’s supply-chain connectivity.

The fragile nature of Jersey’s food security was underlined last autumn, when a prolonged period of high winds and rough seas disrupted Condor’s conventional sailings – affecting retailers across the Island.

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