Monday, February 25, 2013

News from Maersk Group on Project Freight Forwarding and Logistics Development This Week

Danish Giant Looks to the Future in All Areas as Changes Made and Some 2012 Figures Published
Shipping News Feature

DENMARK – SOUTH AFRICA – NETHERLANDS – AP Moller Maersk Group companies range far and wide, both geographically and in terms of what they actually undertake, and this week there is news in both the project freight forwarding and general logistics fields from Safmarine and Damco, both key subsidiaries for the Danish headquartered giant.

In South Africa Safmarine MPV, the section of the company devoted to operating multi purpose vessels for the carriage of heavy lift and out of gauge project cargoes, is taking one small step away from under the Maersk umbrella and has appointed Socopao as its full liner agent in South Africa, effective from April 2013. Deploying a dedicated fleet of multipurpose vessels, Safmarine MPV connects the US, Europe and South Africa with the main oil and gas ports along the West Africa coastline. The company’s specialized multipurpose vessels are purpose-built to carry project and break bulk cargoes and are also able to load containers.

The appointment of Socopoa as Safmarine MPV’s new liner agent also follows the decision of the Danish maritime leviathan to establish Antwerp-based Safmarine MPV as an independent business unit with its own, separate agency network. Safmarine MPV is leaving the Maersk Line/Safmarine agency network, which will continue to represent the AP Moller-Maersk Group’s container shipping business.

Jorg Knuttel, managing director of the break bulk operator Safmarine MPV said the purpose was to further his company’s growth aspirations in the field, adding:

“The decision to establish a separate agency network has the advantage of allowing the Maersk Line and Safmarine liner agencies to continue focusing on the container business, while Safmarine MPV focuses on project and break bulk cargoes.

“Safmarine MPV has appointed Socopao South Africa to provide a complete shipping agency service in the South African market and main ports, and to handle the MPV vessels as of April. Our advice to shippers looking for reliability, flexibility and consistency when shipping their project and break bulk cargo to West Africa is to partner with companies who have a sound knowledge of African ports and conditions and who are able to offer the services that suit the market.

“Socopao is part of Bolloré Africa Logistics, one of the leading integrated logistics networks in Africa and a shipping agency with the knowledge, experience and presence we need to link South Africa with the rest of the continent and help us grow our and our customers’ business in this region. From a project cargo perspective, South African companies have the technology, the infrastructure and the connections they need to maximise the opportunities and we see enormous potential for increasing business between South Africa and West Africa on the back of the new Safmarine MPV-Socopao South Africa partnership.”

Elsewhere another Maersk subsidiary, Damco, also seems to be intent on losing its close links with the parent group. The logistics operation which restructured its European operations into East and West last year, is completing the relocation of its global headquarters from Copenhagen, Denmark, to The Hague, The Netherlands in the coming month.

This week figures for 2012 were released by the company showing what it calls ‘significant growth’ with a 19% jump in net revenue against 2011to $3,272 million, and a gross profit rise of 7% to $807 million for the same period. Ocean freight was up 6% by volume, air cargo jumped a massive 91%, partially due to the acquisition of Chinese freight forwader NTS whilst supply chain management was also up 5% against last year after suffering somewhat hitherto.

In October another acquisition saw the freight forwarder Pacific Network Global Logistics enter the Damco stable which the company says significantly strengthened its position in Oceania. The downside is admitted as the costs associated with the relocation and restructuring hit home together with a gloomy market picture, and the cost of implementing new business also affected the outlook. Rolf Habben-Jansen, CEO of Damco said he was satisfied with the ‘solid’ results, continuing:

“We continue to grow and develop our business, in spite of continued difficult market conditions. I am particularly pleased that we have taken full advantage of our acquisition of NTS, and that all of our products continue to grow organically faster than the market. In addition to that we have made a number of strategic changes and invested a lot in the future – which masks the underlying trading of our business which is better than the pure numbers show, and that also gives us a lot of confidence going into 2013. This stems from a lot of hard work from everybody across our network.”

Photo: Delicate brewery equipment destined for West Africa loaded and handled with care onboard a specialised Safmarine MPV vessel.