First of all, our thoughts go out to everyone involved. These are not only the people in Ukraine and their families and acquaintances, but also the people in Russia. As a business, we are closely involved in the situation. As a logistics service provider, it is important to us to allow our customers’ transport flows to continue within the constantly changing legislation, prohibited and blocked money flows. We've set up a crisis team that deals with this on a daily basis and that meets periodically.
Major challenges of recent years
We’ve been experiencing a whole new environment for a year or two now. That started with the corona pandemic and a container ship that slumped in the Suez Canal. All these things have upset global balance sheets. This situation also has a major impact on global trade flows. Prices are rising and reliability is declining. All our customers and stakeholders are affected by this. We are constantly working to manage this as well as possible.
The developments for the coming weeks
The situation is very uncertain at the moment. The trade balance with Ukraine, Russia, Belarus is disturbed and this also disrupts the entire logistics chain. It is very unclear what is or isn’t possible. We have customers who originated in America, who are being forced to stop. This has a huge impact, also on the activities we provide from our branch in Venlo. We will have to anticipate and respond to this. The great thing is that none of the people involved take sides and that everyone understands the situation. We are working with customers, customers of customers and suppliers to deal with these circumstances. This creates a new base, which is great in these difficult times.
Looking for alternatives
Another challenge is the cost increases in fuel and energy prices and the shortage of drivers. Many drivers come from Eastern Europe. This will only increase further, putting even more pressure on the logistics chain. I think we should maximise our creativity. What is possible? What creative solutions are available? What other modalities are available? What other systems can we use for that? Questions which the teams, together with our customers, are working on. Examples include transport from Asia to Europe. This can be done by boat and by train (the New Silk Road). There are also alternative routes to the New Silk Road, because it involves a lot of uncertainty. We use this to provide continuity of deliveries.
Global pressure is increasing
The pressure on the logistics chain is increasing globally and that is putting pressure on our employees and services. Also overseas, where the balance sheets have been and will continue to be disrupted. It is a challenge for our team to still get the important goods from our customers. Not only from Asia to Europe, but also the congestion in America. Customers have made choices based on the economic growth at the end of last year. Orders that are now coming in or are on the way and sales in some areas are now stagnating for a while. The pressure on our warehouses is increasing enormously. Eventually, that will stop. We therefore have to be creative with which goods we put where and how we organise them.
Using maximum creativity
Of course, you also have European transport, which is largely dependent on road transport and then there’s the shortage of drivers. Due to this shortage, Brexit and the termination of services to England by P&O, it is difficult for our teams to continue to care of everything for our customers. I think it’s great that we have such good relationships with our customers and suppliers, that we can use maximum creativity and always think in solutions, so cost increases are minimised. I think that’s where Seacon’s strength lies. Despite all the limitations, I’m proud of the team’s efforts.
How does it affect people at Seacon?
The people at Seacon are incredibly important. We employ people who are directly or indirectly affected by the situation, for example, through customer relationships. That’s very difficult for these people, which is why we guide them and pay attention to that. What I like to see is that initiatives are being developed within our business to help, for example, the collection of goods or whether we can be facilitating. I think the team really deserves a big compliment for that, which, despite all the challenges, still pays attention to this. I think it’s important to facilitate and support these kinds of things, so we like to do that as a business.
1 April 2022