JOHN SAUNDERS - PUBLISHER Tel: +44 (0)151 427 6800 Fax: +44 (0)151 427 1796 Mobile: +44 (0)7932 102026

RAY GIRVAN Tel: +44 (0)1691 718 045




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By Chris Lewis

I’ve been interviewing port of Liverpool officials longer than I can care to remember – going back to the days when it was still Mersey Docks and Harbours – and in all that time, a Far East service has been a constant aspiration. Now, it appears that wish has finally come true, with DKT Allseas’ announcement that it plans to extend its ‘one off’ sailings from China to the port into a regular operation. However, the manner in which it has come about is rather unexpected. The crisis in global container shipping has forced the industry to look for alternatives, including the chartering of vessels for ‘one off’ sailings to break the backlog of cargo piled up in China, and the hope is that these can now gel into a regular service. The freight industry is nothing if not creative and is well used to coming up with new solutions to solve its customers’ problems. Perhaps the current issues in the industry will spawn a new breed of container operator, one based on simple point-to-point schedules that get cargo closer to the final destination using smaller vessels rather than the slow and cumbersome system of mega-ships making a circuit of major hubs, each of which offers the potential for delay and disruption? In similar vein, the port of Cork in Ireland has benefited from Independent Container Line’s concept of a simple schedule based on a couple of ports in the US and a few major hubs in Europe.


LORRAINE CHRISTIAN Tel: +44 (0)151 427 6800

ANDREA CAZZOLATO Tel: +44 (0)151 427 6800

Such is the interconnected nature of our globalised economy that a problem in a distant part of the world can oſten land up on one’s own doorstep, in a very short space of time. No doubt there are shippers on the North America/Europe trade lane who were surprised to be told of delays or increases in costs because of the Ever Given incident. While, clearly, ships on the North Atlantic would never pass through the Suez Canal, if boxes are not moving around the world as smoothly as they should, that can quickly translate into shortages of capacity in other parts of the world. As reported in our news pages, one analyst is predicting that it could take several months before things get back to normal, which is bad news for anyone planning to ship goods in the immediate future. However, it is important not to lose sight of fundamentals; before the pandemic and the Ever Given incident, shipping lines were blanking sailings because of a lack of demand. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the enthusiasm with which they did this in large part are at the root of the present problems.

The appetite for mergers and acquisitions in the freight industry remains undiminished, Success comes to those who plan

Guest Opinion - Andrew Tavener, head of marketing at Descartes



Saunders Associates Ltd Station House Mersey Road Liverpool UK L17 6AG

Tel: +44 (0)151 427 6800 Fax: +44 (0)151 427 1796 Email: Web:

Brexit has thrown many businesses into a spin, especially those whose plans were derailed or delayed by Covid-19. But when it comes to business success, planning is crucial not only for compliance – but also growth and resilience. Those companies that prepared earlier are performing better, they are more confident about the future and they are able to maximise the opportunities leſt by competitors unwilling or unable to trade in the EU. In March 2021, Descartes

commissioned independent research to assess the specific elements of EU trade that have been affected, as well as the resultant disruption, the level of preparedness for Brexit and the

expected performance of supply chains in 2021. So what differentiates those

businesses that are enjoying post- Brexit success? The immediate effect of the Brexit and Covid double whammy is clear: European trade overall is down. But will it continue? Confidence

is a huge component of successful business and our survey confirms that nearly two in five companies think the economy wasn’t ready for the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January. This lack of preparedness by individual businesses has had a severe knock-on effect on the rest of the supply chain: even a company that is totally prepared can have its business disrupted if suppliers

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As the definitive publication within the sea, air, road and rail freight sectors, each issue includes regular news and analysis, in-depth coverage discovering the business decisions behind the news stories, shipper and exporter reports, opinion, geographical features, political and environmental issues.

If you have any stories or letters which should be of interest or any feedback on FBJ, please contact our editor Chris Lewis - +44 (0)208 6450666

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as evidenced by DSV Panalpina’s announcement that it was to buy one of the world’s largest remaining forwarders, Agility for $4.2 billion – its largest acquisition to date. While the news will doubtless send shockwaves through the world of freight, the words of analyst David Kerstens should be noted: while the purchase will make the Danish forwarder the third biggest in the world, it will have a market share of only 4-5% - far from a monopoly. Freight forwarding remains a business of, mainly, small to medium sized firms. In a dynamic global marketplace, there is still plenty of scope for the small operator – provided they display the traditional forwarder’s qualities of entrepreneurship, commitment to customers and, yes, agility.

have failed to make the required changes. But is this the reality aſter the

initial, expected border glitches? If companies have the right paperwork and processes in place, delays should be minimal. And while traffic volume dropped initially in January, in response to stockpiling by many companies, figures are back up. By February, it was reported that UK-EU freight trade was back to 90% of normal at Dover. With markets beginning to

re-open and as vaccination

lockdowns ease programmes

take effect, there is a huge pent- up demand for goods. So are companies ready? In March 2020, when companies

should have been gearing up for Brexit, the vast majority were wrestling with global disruption to supply chains and the need to put many staff on furlough simply to survive. Hardly the best preparation

for the biggest upheaval in European trade in 50 years. It is extremely telling that the

businesses that are thriving post- Brexit are those that

started to

prepare soonest. Furthermore, these companies took a holistic approach, taking into account the diverse requirements of post-Brexit trade and making the required changes prior to 2021. With the next phase of Brexit

changes – an end to deferred import declarations from July 2021 and safety and security filings required from 1 January 2022 - there is still much to prepare for. There is little doubt that the huge

demand for customs brokerage services is having an impact on charges and smaller companies are struggling to gain access to them at any price, with brokers not taking on new clients. But there are a number of new organisations stepping up to provide additional services.

Alternatively, companies can

invest in dedicated supply chain soſtware and handle customs declarations in-house. With a Cloud-based solution, all the vital customs and shipping data is secure yet accessible 24 hours a day. This approach not only adds control but also provides companies with an easy route to scale up exports in both the EU and the rest of the world, without adding costs. Brexit has thrown many

businesses into a spin, especially those whose plans were derailed or delayed by Covid. Those companies that prepared earlier are performing better,

they are more confident

about the future and they are able to maximise the opportunities leſt by competitors unwilling or unable to trade in the EU. To download a copy of Beyond

Brexit Research Whitepaper see: brexit-realities-whitepaper

Issue 4 2021 - Freight Business Journal From the Editor


FBJ is the only UK and one of the few pan-European Multimodal newspapers. The comments we have received prove there is still room for a hard copy publication within the freighting industry. You don’t have to look at a screen all day!

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