Monday, February 4, 2013

Multimodal Freight Options Like Rail and RoRo Can Allow Logistics Groups Green Turkish Delight

Overland Road Trailer Services Giving Way to Alternatives
Shipping News Feature

UK – TURKEY – Talk to anyone regarding trade with Turkey, from logistics groups to politicians, and you are liable to receive qualified answers to any question. The country is a Eurasian state, neither obviously Arabian nor European, basically Muslim yet with no official state religion, some Turks wanting closer ties with the EU, some not, and this confusion of identity can sometimes make people hesitant to commit to investment of various sorts. What must be remembered however is that UK – Turkish trade stretches back a very long way and that accompanied road freight services paved the way for the later glut of trailer activities which developed after the UK entered the Common Market as the EU then was. Now multimodal options such as rail and RoRo are opening the business to a possibility of a greener future.

Almost half a century after it first identified the potential of establishing trade links, Davies Turner is set to further expand its multimodal presence in services between the UK and Turkey, developing more environmentally friendly supply chain solutions between the two countries. Utilising its long established links with partner, Istanbul-based Ekol Logistics, the two aim to offer redefined opportunities for shippers using alternative transport methods. Joint services are envisaged with Ekol which see each forwarder playing to its own strengths with the Turkish operation strong on full loads while Davies Turner is the leader in groupage services over the UK-Turkish two-way trade lane.

The pair intend to exploit new opportunities offered by the developing rail and ro-ro sectors as opposed to their traditional direct overland operations which Philip Stephenson, chairman of Davies Turner, explained:

“We were amongst the first to increase our focus on Turkey because we saw the country as both completing our pan-European coverage and operating as a gateway to countries such as Iraq. Working with Ekol, our partner of more than 20 years in the region, we are now ready to provide some of the most environmentally friendly multimodal services between Turkey and the EU.

“The recent moves by Ekol to charter three ro-ro ferries to run between Istanbul and Trieste with a capacity of 250 trailers per ferry and to operate thrice-daily block trains between Trieste and Cologne, as well as Ostrava on the Czech-Poland border, means removing thousands of tonnes of pollution and carbon dioxide emissions as this routing uses significantly less fuel per kilometre/tonne of freight than a direct road truck journey, without impacting on overall fast transit times.

“Our trailer, sea-container and air cargo services between the UK and Turkey have for many years been amongst our fastest growing and most successful, comparable to the best Far-East markets. Turkey is right up there amongst the new wave of countries with the strongest economies, and with its rapidly growing private sector its GDP is predicted to increase by more than 4% during 2013, compared to 0.1% at best within the Eurozone.”

Stephenson says that Ekol’s ability to win import contracts from the UK’s continental neighbours like the Netherlands and Germany, for example automotive based business, offsets the glut of Turkish exports to the UK which far exceed in capacity the number of return loads normally available. Ekol’s growth has seen the freight forwarder now employ 5,500 staff in control of half a million square metres of warehousing. Under Ahmet Musul, the majority shareholder and Ekol chairman, the freight forwarder has also attracted substantial investment from the Gulf States.

Ekol claims to be the fastest growing logistics group in Europe and last month it incorporated the Turkish branch of Belgium forwarder Transuniverse, taking over that company’s local operations.. The strength of their partner and the relationship between the two companies has encouraged Davies Turner to take on more northbound traffic buoyed by the confidence it has gained from Ekol’s investment in the ferries and the block train services which Stephenson says has sent a clear message to the market and enabled both groups to seriously address a greener approach to the two way trade.