German carrier Hapag-Lloyd is poised to further expand its growth across Africa where it is committed to ramping up its existing services in the region to importers, exporters and the entire logistics chain.
This was the message the line’s chief financial officer, Mark Frese, delivered during a high-level networking event held in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday night.
Business delegates from Hapag-Lloyd’s offices across the world, from China and Shanghai to Mauritius, Dubai and Germany are currently in Durban to attend internal meetings and to connect with local logistics stakeholders and clients in the region.
Highlighting the four pillars of the shipping line’s strategy, Frese said that apart from the obvious goal to be profitable, which had not been easy during uncertain global economic times in the past two years, it aimed to continue its global focus.
“We are a very global company with a very balanced network. We are connecting the world across the oceans. During the coronavirus pandemic people were saying it would be much better if you only focus on Trans-Pacific routes because rates were so wonderful but right now I think it is already paying off again that we have that balanced network.”
Frese said the line was also strongly focused on the quality of its services.
“During these very difficult years, we focused on quality, and we promise even more progress. We have to do more.”
He added that sustainability was also a priority in the line’s strategic growth plan.
“We all face a real challenge personally, and as a company, to contribute what is possible and we will focus on our ocean products and you as our customers. We have to be greener, and we need to get costs down to offer you better prices, better services, and to be even more competitive,” he said.
Frese said the line was committed to investing in growth and development to improve its African service levels.
“We as the advisory board and our shareholders have a clear and unbiased commitment to the growth area, which is Africa for us. We are committed to making that a real success for our customers, for us, and connecting Africa to the world.
“For me, it is a strong connection to sustainability. We all need to work together to make that happen, it will not work out if we rule out regions from working together. We have to work together globally,” he said.
Hapag-Lloyd senior managing director for the Middle East region, Dheeraj Bhatia, said the line’s strategy for Africa was created in 2017 when it opened one office on the continent with 70 employees.
“As we speak, last year we had ten offices with 600 people, and it gives us tremendous energy, there is a lot more to be done,” he said.
He said the carrier continued developing its service offerings to differentiate itself in the market.
“We are looking at continuous improvement to bring better products to help you further. We express our commitment to this continent and this county,” Bhatia said.
Managing director for South Africa, Rogelio Busto said staff had arrived in the city from across the world to attend the shipping line’s internal meetings.
Hapag-Lloyd expanded its business in the Southeast African region in recent years by acquiring Nile Dutch in 2021 and Deutsche Africa Linien in 2022.