Brokering a deal

With over two centuries of experience incorporated into its services, Kennedy Hunter N.V. is an expert ship brokering and tramping agency. The company was founded in October 1806 by Charles Brequigny, with Charles’ daughter’s husband Barth Kennedy becoming a partner in the company. In 1869, their son William-Joseph associated with John-William Hunter, when the company’s name was changed to Kennedy Hunter. The company remained a family enterprise until 1999 when Conti 7, a leading Antwerp-based holding company, became a 50 per cent shareholder in Kennedy Hunter. Conti 7 operates a number of specialised business units including liner operations through Conti- Lines, liner shipping agency ACSA and various other shipping activities.

2010 has seen Conti 7 take over John Hunter’s shares of the company, with Jean-Frédéric Brion, managing director of Conti 7, appointing Captain Frank Driesen to take over the daily management of Kennedy Hunter. The company has always been active within a wide spectrum of the maritime business, with a specific focus on port activities such as agency, forwarding and warehousing services. Nowadays Kennedy Hunter’s main focus lies in the rendering of tailor made port agency services to major shipping owners, providing dedicated assistance in all Belgian ports such as Antwerp, Ghent, Zeebrugge, the maritime channel from the river Scheldt to Brussels and all other navigable inland waterways. This activity has been certified to ISO 9001 by Lloyds Register of Shipping, since December 2000.

Frank describes some of the key services that Kennedy Hunter offers to the market: “Our range of capabilities covers vessel clearance and port operations with full husbandry coverage on behalf of ship owners and operators, including surveys and repairs. This is not only in the regular liner and tramping business, but also in the more specialist field of gas, chemical and car carrier vessels next to the various conventional commodities like bulk and containers.”

With a focus on vessel operations Kennedy Hunter ensures, in partnership with the ship owners, that each vessel is dispatched as quickly as possible. It also guarantees smooth cooperation with the owner or operator of the vessel whilst it is in port. In addition, for any given job suitable sub-contractors can be appointed either through the company itself, or directly by Conti 7. Depending on the customer’s requirements Kennedy Hunter, or one of the Conti 7 group’s subsidiaries can further integrate with a client’s logistics to undertake further services.

“Drawing on our substantial capabilities we can also provide services in chartering of vessels, protective agencies and customs clearance. We can establish handling, storage and distribution rates through the Belgian ports, for both conventional and container cargo, and assist with inland transport through the chartering of barges and trucks, and the booking of railways wagons. This enables us to provide clients with a complete integrated end-to-end solution,” explains Frank.

In these times of unprecedented changes, Kennedy Hunter offers additional value to its clients operations through analysing efficient working procedures and reducing costs, leaving clients free to concentrate on increasing revenue through maintaining control of their main trading or shipping operations. In this respect Kennedy Hunter is capable of working co-operatively with clients within any field of the maritime sector. Although the company works on a completely independent basis, its services are further strengthened through the support of the Conti 7 Group. This is a particularly valuable relationship on projects outside of Kennedy Hunters’ specialist areas of activity, providing all customers with maximum support for all areas of marine transport.

Although the difficulties of the market means agents are facing substantial downfall in both the number of vessel owners and in emerging industries, Kennedy Hunter continues to identify new opportunities to contribute its transport expertise to, such as new commodities like raw materials for bio-energy. Reflecting on this Frank concludes with his future plans for the business: “The biggest challenge for Kennedy Hunter in the coming years will be to expand and export our own personalised service to ports outside of our current Belgian operations. With the support of our customers, we expect to grow further and succeed in creating our own specialised network. We also plan to continue to invest in our most important working tool, which is our staff, through regular training and constant motivation, which will ultimately lead to high levels of skill and quality of service.”

Established over 200 years ago

Wide spectrum of services

Part of the Conti 7 group