Journal indépendant d'économie et de politique des transports
CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero OTTOBRE 2020
FORWARDERS SLAM MAERSK: 'MOVING FROM SUPPLIER TO BECOMING A
Major forwarders may abandon Maersk over concerns that the
line's new "integrated" business and "aggressive"
strategy crea-tes conflict of interests, and that it wants to cut
forwarders from its business.
DB Schenker confirmed to The Loadstar that it had lost key
account status with the shipping line, but said it had already
switched most of its volumes.
"In May 2020, DB Schenker removed more than 90% of the
freight volume loaded at Maersk, and shifted them to other ship-ping
companies," said a spokesman.
"This adjustment of our carrier portfolio was necessary to
ensure optimal access to capacities and freight rates for our ocean
freight customers, and to guarantee maximum network stability.
"With almost no volumes left at Maersk, the termination of
key account status was a logical consequence and has no
implica-tions for our ability to serve our customers' needs."
Maersk said it would not comment, owing to "the
confidentiality of our customer relationships".
One forwarding source said DB Schenker was not the only
for-warder looking at moving volumes away from the Danish com-pany,
with one said to have begun the process this month.
Forwarders claim Maersk has become increasingly restrictive in
offering named accounts, while Maersk Spot has taken the FAK
business, making it increasingly difficult for forwarders to mana-ge
their portfolios and provide customers with rates. One also claimed
that Maersk, declining to offer named accounts, instead went
directly to the shippers involved.
"It [Maersk] is moving from becoming a supplier to a
competi-tor," he said.
The closure of Damco and its NVOCC status has upset the mar-ket,
and DB Schenker famously targetted its customers for di-scontinued
services. (You can read Loadstar Premium's take on it here.)
Maersk's termination of DB Schenker's key account status was
said to be a consequence of that, but one senior forwarder said it
was, in fact, a warning to other carriers - "This
'blacklisting' of Schenker is just a message to say 'if you do this,
this is how we'll treat you'."
One source said two shipping lines had warned customers about
using Maersk's freight management services.
"Maersk can now see how other lines act in terms of weekly
allocations; you can't trust that it doesn't have a conflict of
"It all starts with Vincent Clerc [APMM chief of ocean and
logi-stics] - as one legal entity, you shouldn't be a supplier as
well as booking capacity with other shipping lines. I can't see
other carriers liking it. It's an aggressive strategy and, at some
point, there will be no way back.
"A carrier's direct contracts require neutrality, which was
given by Damco. Maersk now does everything, but the terms are not
clear. The likelihood is high that other forwarders will do what
Schenker did and move volumes away."
One source believed that would be harder for companies like
Kuehne + Nagel, which moves large volumes on 2M vessels.
"It would be too tricky for them. I'd not be surprised if a
lot of forwarders think about this, but it's difficult at the moment
as volumes are chock-a-block. It will take a few months, but then
you would not be a prisoner to Maersk."
The source claimed aggression was in Maersk's DNA: "It was
the one who drove the rate wars in 2008/9, hoping it would be the
last one to survive."
However, forwarders claim there is no such issue with other
lines: "It is not an issue, and never has been, if the carrier
has some forwarding activity. That's normal.
"CMA CGM - owner of Ceva - is doing some integrated
marke-ting, but CMA and Ceva have separate management and they
clearly differentiate their behaviour. Ceva is not a big player, and
Rodolphe Saade [CEO of CMA CGM] is smarter, and under-stands that he
cannot rule the world.
"Ceva was being actively sold, and it was an opportunity he
took to turn a loss-making company into a profit-maker. I wouldn't
be surprised if CMA sells it, and there is no reason to believe that
their behaviour will change. MSC, Hapag Lloyd, all the others behave
One medium-sized independent forwarder said he didn't current-ly
have concerns about Maersk, although it was "confusing",
and agreed he had no concerns about CMA/Ceva: "Perhaps the next
stage for CMA/Ceva would be to work more collaboratively, but our
trust in them is very good at the moment.
"If you were K+N or DHL, you might worry, as they are the
biggest customer, and competitor. You might think twice before
sending them a customer profile. But CMA is not good enough for that
"But Maersk is still a bit confusing, and it'll be
interesting to see what it is trying to do."
Meanwhile, one forwarder said that publicly poking DB Schen-ker
could be a bad move by Maersk.
"DB Schenker, together with Deutsche Bahn, could probably
take all the central European business if Maersk wants to play
hardball. Maersk is trying to change the game and whomever I speak
to says the same - long-term, Maersk doesn't want forwar-der
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