Our History

For 4 generations, a controlled growth.

Charles André, the Founder of the company

1907 -1986: A mechanic and an entrepreneur

Charles André was born in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc (Ardèche), where his parents owned a cycle shop.

After studying in Alès and Marseille, he became a mechanic at the age of 16. In the tradition of the “Compagnons”, he then undertook a brief journey around France before carrying out his military service. After that, he joined his father’s cycle shop.

The automobile sector was taking off and this led him to put his experience to good use: he became a Peugeot agent and opened a fuel depot under the Esso brand.

1932, creation of Charles André Transports

A simple idea: to fetch oil products straight from the refinery

Instead of depending on the train to bring 50 litre containers of fuel, Charles André decided to go and fetch fuel straight from the refinery.

He began the adventure with a second hand 4 tonne UNIC vehicle. He bought his first tanker in 1938.

1954, the company sets ups in Montélimar (Drôme)

A strategical location

Put on standby during WWII, the company started up again after the Liberation with one truck only. In 1950, with 12 trucks already, the company extended its transport activities from fuel to chemical products: soda, sulphuric acid and so on.

In 1954, as a strategic choice, it moved to Montélimar, a location which offered direct access to the national highway No. 7, a major trunk road linking Paris and Marseille.

In the 1960s, the first subsidiaries opened

Charles André’s companies are “exported”

The expansion of the chemical and oil industries led to a development of transports, and thus of the company. As a result, a first subsidiary  named Rhonatrans, was opened in Solaize, near Lyon. In 1969, a second one, called Sudotrans, was set up in Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées) following an acquisition - the first of many in the history of GCA.

In 1972, the company opened its fifth subsidiary in Notre-Dame-de-Gravenchon, near Le Havre, now called Sonotri. Later on, Charles André extended his transport activities to the construction sector.

1972, the arrival of the second generation

The two sons of the founder, join the company

Charles Pierre André, the holder of a law degree, took over the management of the Charles André companies in 1972. He structured the company and organised it into subsidiaries in order to prepare it for future client needs and industrial challenges. He developed new activities and extended its geographical reach to Europe. The strength of the organisation he then set up enabled the company to increase its turnover fourfold and to have one of the best networks in the sector.

His younger brother Jacques was in charge of the Rhonatrans subsidiary.

The 1970s, Transport Charles André doubles in size

Opening of Spain and creation of GCA

The buy-out of STIP allowed Transports Charles André to join the big players. The STIP was a company specialising in oil products, the various branches of which were merged into the subsidiaries of the group (Rhonatrans, Sotrimo, Sudotrans, Delta Route, Fouvet Mercier and
Citernord). A new subsidiary was set up for Est Camion in Gambsheim. Following this acquisition, the company doubled in size to reach 800 trucks. In 1976, it entered the Spanish market with the creation of a subsidiary specialised in the transport of chemical products, gas and foodstuffs.

In 1977 the GCA brand was launched.

First "inter-subsidiaries" event in 1972

Sport and conviviality

The motto of the André family has always been “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. As a young man, the founder Charles André played football as a goalkeeper. Charles Pierre for his part was a regular runner. From 1972 on, football and petanque tournaments were regularly organised among the various sites. From 1982 on, at the urging of Charles Pierre André, these friendly sporting encounters became the inter-subsidiary challenges.

The 1970s: GCA branches into intermodal transport

The beginning of GCATAINER

In 1973, the Western countries were hit by an oil crisis. Prices rocketed; it was estimated that in three decades hydrocarbons reserves would not be sufficient to meet requirements. Charles Pierre was quick to react. The company had containers manufactured and began a combined rail-road
transport business. This is how intermodal transport emerged. This new offer allowed the group to cross borders more easily and to offer greater transport capacities to its clients: a single train could transport up to 30 tankers. Thanks to this means of transport, GCA entered the foodstuffs markets, chartering whole container trains to transport milk from Normandy to Italy.

The 1980s: First steps into Logistics

Business diversification

In 1986, in response to an order from ESSO Chimie, the group began its industrial logistics activities (GCA stockage) in Lillebonne, Seine-Maritime. The site was equipped with a warehouse, storage silos for plastic materials, and drumming facilities for additives.
In 1988, GCA purchased the company Prestaplast, located in Rognac near the Etang de Berre and operating in the same sector.
The significant event of 1987 was the exploration of automobile logistics with the purchase of TEA. This company has four sites in France, the largest of which is in Lyon-Corbas. Its business activities consist in receiving automobiles by train or truck, inspecting, storing and preparing them, and transporting them to dealers. Today, the automobile division takes full advantage of its European network with 32 sites.

Agriculture since 1981

Even greater diversification

In 1981, GCA purchased Terre de Port, a 400-hectare agricultural property located in the Gard department, in the “Petite Camargue” region. Cereals were grown there: wheat, sunflowers, oilseed rape, barley and so on. A few years later, olive trees were planted.
In 2003, the company expanded its agricultural branch with the purchase of a 20-hectare vineyard in the Costières de Nîmes region, known as the “Terre de Diane”. In 2016, the Grand Mazet agricultural holding was added to the Terre de Port estate. In 2020, GCA purchased the Comptoir Agricole du Languedoc from the Madar family, bringing on-board their know-how in the production, processing and packaging of Camargue rice.

GCA is already concerned about the environment

Cleaning stations: a new industrial tool launched in the 1990s

From 1989 on, GCA created its first washing stations for the inside of tankers: LAVASUD, LAVAOUEST and LAVAEST. The transport of foodstuffs and chemical products requires tankers to be cleaned after each journey. At the time, the waste water was often discharged into the environment without
any prior treatment. GCA pioneered an industrial tool that allowed work to be carried out safely and for washing water to be treated in line with environmental regulations. Since then, a network of 16 stations has been developed, involving a real know-how. GCA LAVAGE carries out almost 150,000 cleanings a year and manages 20,000 different products and 3,000 tonnes of waste every year.

1991, the tragedy

Charles Pierre André dies in a car accident

The family and board of directors rallied around Jacques André who took over the management of GCA from his brother. Delphine André, Charles Pierre’s eldest daughter, aged 25, joined the financial department then managed by Guy Besson. Jean-Christophe Pic took over the management of the subsidiary Delta Route. For ten years, this team continued the work of Charles Pierre with determination.

2002, on the way for the third generation

Delphine André, granddaughter of the founder, takes over the management of GCA

Holding a master’s degree in business law and a lawyer, Delphine André organised the group into departments in order to ensure its growth and promote diversification. In 2003, she held a meeting with the employees at the Stade de France for the 70th anniversary of the company. The same event happened in 2022 with twice as many employees.

A new horizon with the hotel industry

GCA moves into the tourism and leisure sectors in 2003

Shortly after taking over the company, Delphine André carried out a first transaction in the hotel industry. An avid skier, she opened Les Barmes de l’Ours, a five-star establishment in Val d’Isère, a popular ski resort for sports fans. Today, the Hotel division of GCA is made up of 8 hotels including the legendary hotel Les Roches in Le Lavandou which will reopen in 2023 after ambitious modernisation works, along with a holiday residence.

The 2000s: GCA consolidates its varisous divisions

Continuing to grow, consolidating and expanding the transport supply

At the end of 2001, the Transport and Distribution Division numbered no fewer than 39 sites in France and 13 abroad. After opening a Sotragaz subsidiary in Morocco in 2001, GCA bought out Vaché (FMA skips) in 2003, followed by Citaix in 2004.
In 2005, the Group extended its existing expertise to vacuum pumps when it absorbed Cresdils Gasdon.
In 2007, it became the number 2 in concrete distribution in France thanks to the acquisition of Transbeton, which was to become GCA Pompage a few developments and fresh acquisitions later. The buyout of Omega in the Czech Republic in 2011 and Simon Gibson in Great Britain in 2016 consolidated GCA’s presence outside France.

Diversification into spare parts logistics

GCA acquires Striebig in 2007

Located in Hatten in Alsace, Striebig is an expert in spare parts management for the automotive industry. The firm has at its disposal more than 110,000 m2 of covered warehouse space, equipped with thoroughly modern facilities, among them a 5-km automatic distribution line. It also possesses fifty or so tarp-covered trucks. By diversifying into the automotive logistics branch in 2007, it was able to broaden its range of services for automotive manufacturers. Striebig has no fewer than 190,000 m2 under cover in 2022.

Automotive Logistics doubles in size

In the 2000s, GCA consolidates its various divisions

After the takeover of Transports Baudron in Nantes in 2006 and of the Alsatian firm, Transeuro, in 2007, TEA extended its network. The acquisition of Walon France in 2013 was to enable the Automotive Division to double in size. In line with its European expansion, GCA put down roots in Croatia with the acquisition of Spoljar in 2018, since renamed Transeuro Adria.

The 2010s, moving faster and further into multimodal transport

GCA becomes a combined operator in rail and river transport

GCA wanted to make its transport supply greener. To do so, the Group had to develop intermodal transport and guarantee its reliability. And so it was that, in 2013, it acquired Novatrans from the SNCF and, in 2017, Greenmodal from CMA CGM. Thanks to these two companies, GCA can now operate goods train and container barge convoys. Novatrans currently operates 6,600 trains per annum on 120 connections per week in Europe, which enables it to reduce CO2 emissions by 170,000 tonnes. Greenmodal sails on the Rhône and Seine, carrying 78,000 containers per annum, which means a reduction in CO2 emissions of 35,000 tonnes.

Creation of GCA Supply 4 Industry in 2028

Industrial logistics gains momentum

In 2011, GCA opened a logistics hub in Fos-sur-Mer and entrusted its management to GCA Logistics Fos. Its buildings, divided into self-contained cells, are fitted out for the storage of hazardous substances. In 2012, another hub covering 21,000 m2 was inaugurated north of Barcelona. In 2018, GCA acquired a specialist in packaging and logistics services, the firm SOFLOG. This company, with its 1,500 members of staff, can call on the services of a nationwide network and makes 140 million euros in turnover. All of the logistics activities are now consolidated under the same banner,
resulting in GCA Supply 4 Industry. This new division provides logistics support before and after production, whether on its own sites or directly on the client’s. Its expertise in packaging engineering and design for fragile parts is widely recognised.

In 2019, GCA Logistics Le Havre inaugurated an up-to-date new hub covering 20,000 m2,classified under the SEVESO lower tier threshold.

The 4th generation is on its way

Thinking about transmission and the long term

Delphine André’s two sons joined the company several years ago. They demonstrated their passion for this profession too. The fourth generation is giving perspective to our customers and employees.

The eldest, Charles, heads the transport and distribution division, and Arthur, the youngest, the automotive logistics division, industrial logistics and Transports Caillot. They started in a subsidiary, in the field and know the trades perfectly.

2023: business diversification continues

GCA acquires Transports Caillot and the Autaa group

Caillot transports operates in the automotive spare part, which allowed GCA to expand its customer portfolio. The company has a real know-how in Champagne, wines, spirits bringing a new diversification to GCA.

The integration of the Autaa group, also family-owned, a few months later, allowed the creation of a Lifting and Exceptional Transport division to expand the Charles André Group’s service offering.