Fishing for growth

With origins dating back to 1994, when a one-vessel operation provided container services between Rotterdam and west Norway, North-Sea Container Lines is one of today’s most comprehensive providers of marine transport services to those operating between Norway and the continent. Growing steadily from its inception the organisation consistently added to its fleet and capabilities with 1998 seeing it expand to cover mid and north Norway, while services between Bremerhaven and Hamburg started the following year. Throughout its 16 years of operation the company has gained a substantial amount of industry contacts and has developed strategic relationships with both overseas and local cargo operators.

Having developed distinct expertise in the field of container logistics, North-Sea Container Lines now provides superior services to customers in three different sectors. Industrial customers benefit from a fleet that transports cargo directlyfrom their manufacturing plants on the coast to depots overseas, while deep sea lines are able to take advantage of a feeder service that offers a balance in import and export of cargo from all of the company’s sailing locations. Finally, logistics forwarders are able to use North-Sea Container Lines’ proficiency in door-to-door services for greater efficiency and taking cargo from road to sea.

With such a broad portfolio of services, the company is well placed for continued success as Arne Jakobsen, managing director and founder of North-Sea Container Lines explains: “With seven vessels in our trading area we have very good frequency and are covering all of the main hubs in the continent to offer our customers unrivalled flexibility. We are also, through our network of agents, able to tailor our transport solutions to meet the needs and changing demands of our clients. Two of the vessels in our fleet are owned by ourselves, while the remaining five are charter vessels, this means that we are able to remain dynamic and operate in line with the market whether demand is high or low.”

In the coming month the company is due to hit its peak period with week 38 of the year marking the start of the mackerel season, which sees the company operating at full speed until Christmas. At this time of year North-Sea Container Lines is a key element of the fishing industry with its vessels transporting enormous amounts of mackerel from the west coast of Norway to Bremerhaven. In order to meet this inordinate need the company has recently chartered a new 677-TEU (twentyfoot equivalent units) vessel known as MV Celina to increase its capacity and levels of service during this challenging period. This new capability will be phased into the existing range of services in the coming weeks and enables the organisation to carry over 300 loaded TEUs a week between west Norway and the continent. This modern facility is also equipped with 125 reefer-plugs and two 45 tonne cranes making it ideal for operation in the mackerel fishing season covering all of the main fishing ports alongside the MV Anna. The remaining five vessels; Carina, Clarissa, Tina, Emma and North Express will serve the Rotterdam port meaning that between them, the fleet will cover a large share of the frozen fish market exported from Norway.

“Our success in this area has come from a number of strategic contract renewals with the industry and we have been able to cement our position and relationships with key customers throughout the region. We are also looking to align ourselves with new industry plants in Norway so that we can offer them the most efficient and highest quality services on the market. We have no intention to expand our fleet at present, but will reassess our offering in Easter 2011 to ensure that we are growing in line with the economy and customer requirement,” Arne notes.

Indeed, despite the global economic crisis that has seen many logistics operators suffer, North-Sea Container Lines has continued to witness steady business and even growth. While a minor decline in cargo import has been experienced by all in the industry, the company has had sustained success in the fishing arena and has maintained lucrative contracts for the future. Though the Norwegian region suffered minor losses between October 2008 and Easter 2009, North-Sea Container Lines is already back to its previous operating levels and is meeting the quantity needs of the industry.

Arne, however, is cautious and the company will wait for the recovery of the total economy before implementing any ambitious expansion plans: “We are merely a small chain in a big system and we have to look to the world situation before making any bold changes to the way we operate. We pride ourselves, however, on not just talking, but acting and should the opportunity to increase our fleet and operations arise, we will take advantage of it whole-heartedly. In five years’ time I predict we will have two additional vessels, with more departures in all directions. I also believe that by this time we will be able to handle a lot more cargo in containerised form from the industrial sector. We are well placed to meet the needs of increased volume, offering customers the frequency and range of services they require as part of an ongoing, long-term business relationship.”

Chartering a new modern vessel, the MV Celina

About to enter into peak season

Has experienced sustained business over the past two years