Full steam ahead for Nippon Express’ maritime forwarding Vol.1
- ― Charting growth in tempestuous times
- After an initial drop-off, international shipping volumes rebounded sharply from the second half of 2020. Demand for consumer goods, led by Western consumers cooped up at home buying goods online manufactured in Asia, has surged. Combined with robust trade volumes in other key sectors such as semiconductor and automotive, global cargo shipments for 2021 have risen above pre-Covid levels. But a severe shortage of containers, combined with port congestions from Covid-19-related lockdowns, have caused delays in deliveries and soaring freight rates.
- As shippers scramble to secure cargo space and find new routes, an unexpected window for growth is presenting itself for forwarders. One such company on the rising tide is Nippon Express, Asia’s largest service provider and among the world’s largest global logistics service providers.
- “As a result of the disruptions from Covid-19, we are seeing an increase in queries from customers realising the value of forwarders such as us,” says Shinichi Kakiyama, executive officer for Nippon Express and at the helm of the group’s maritime forwarding strategy. “One reason these customers are reaching out to us is that Nippon Express provides a wide lineup of solutions combining sea, rail, and air services, together with various logistics services, throughout our global network.”
- The latest developments are timely for the company, which has prioritised expansion of its maritime forwarding business for the whole group in its mid-term growth plan, “Dynamic Growth”, announced in 2019.
- With over 80 per cent of all international cargo being sent by sea, maritime forwarding is at the core of supply chains for most companies. Nippon Express identifies close involvement in customers’ maritime forwarding as indispensable to capture clients’ broader transport and warehousing needs, as well as derivative air cargo needs, before and after shipment by sea.
- “Providing maritime forwarding services will enable us to develop deeper relations with our customers and understand how they wish to optimise their supply chains,” says Kakiyama. “Ultimately we hope to become as competitive as the European mega-forwarders in buying power and securing cargo space.”
- Although dominant in Japan and highly competitive in Asia-origin routes, Nippon Express still lacks the vast scale of its largest competitors which handle multiple million TEUs (20-foot container equivalent units) annually. Nippon Express aims to increase its handling volume to over 1.3m TEUs per year by 2023 from some 660,000 in 2020 and count itself among the top-five global maritime forwarders in the future.
This content was paid for and produced by Nippon Express in partnership with the Commercial Department of the Financial Times.