Welfare at sea
Founded in 2009 as a subsidiary of global leader Wrist Ship Supply, SeaStar Management has grown to become one of the leading global providers of provision, service and budget management to the international shipping community. Based in Denmark, and supported by worldwide distribution offices in key locations, the company predominantly serves the catering requirements of a variety of vessels from tankers and bulk carriers to more specialised seismic and navy ships.
Over recent years, despite an economic dip in the global maritime industry, more and more ships owners are turning to supply companies to outsource their catering handling needs. A particular driver for this is the state of global regulations, such as MLC 2006, which provides a standard for seafarers to receive good, healthy and varied meals on board. “There’s an increased focus on welfare and ensuring proper working conditions on ships,” explains General Manager Niels Snog. “One of the great benefits of outsourcing is that customers can ensure that ships are in accordance with these restrictions and standards that have been introduced.” With this in mind, it is no wonder that in just over six years SeaStar is now serving more than 500 vessels, with a growth rate of around 100 per year.
However, it is not just the state of the market that has afforded SeaStar with its success. “Being part of Wrist Ship Supply means we have a really strong supply value chain,” says Niels nog. “As part of this group we are therefore really strong at negotiating prices, offering quality service, uniform products and ensuring that the customer gets the best regardless of their position/location.” As the world leader in ship and offshore supply, Wrist Ship Supply has established a position of unrivalled buying power and supplier relationships across a global network. This means that SeaStar has a wealth of support and resource available to it in order to best serve its customers. As Niels Snog continues: “Fifty per cent of our volume can be covered by our internal supply chain through Wrist. Those of our competitors that also offer shipping supplies in their family of companies can perhaps manage ten to 20 per cent, and they don’t all cover as globally as Wrist does.” Not only is quality fed down to the end user from this supply chain, but also at a leading price.
Despite SeaStar being relatively new to the market it is aware of the amount of competition that exists and will continue to emerge as the innovative provider of catering services in a sector that is expanding. “SeaStar has positioned itself as one of the strongest in the market, but there are a small number of companies that are about 30-40 per cent bigger than us. However, the strength of our service means that we can compete equally with these.” Indicating the successful level of quality service it can supply and its ability to serve a range of needs to its diverse customer portfolio.The portfolio includes vessel types such as tankers, bulk carrier, navy vessels and seismic/offshore vessels. Seastar is an approved supplier to the German, Russian, Australian and Danish Navy and as Niels Snog explains: “To be approved as a supplier to a navy requires very high standards and certified operational procedures, we have been approved in four, which says a lot about the service quality and reputation of SeaStar.”
What is particularly advantageous for the company is the ability for it to grow organically in a quick and efficient way thanks to the skills and knowledge that already exist in the Wrist group. “Whereas other companies need to bring in brand new employees and train them, we’ve been able to bring in experienced people from within our own ranks. As such, going from two to 19 employees hasn’t slowed down our growth,” points out Niels Snog.
As the market grows and demands more from supply companies, so SeaStar continues to respond. One major innovation that has only recently been released to market is a series of videos to promote and educate on best practice within the on-board catering department. These short films cover everything from waste management and hygiene to how to make a good cost-effective by the end of 2015, the company will also be releasing an online maritime cookbook. This will help and support the Chefs and Chief Stewards onboard, in order to accommodate for the growing variety of nationalities among the seafares while still ensuring the welfare of these. Alongside the publication will be an online portal for customers to share new recipes and ideas across the industry.
Another apt diversification for SeaStar is also evident in the company’s recently established stores catering division. “With stores catering, we’re expanding our concept to also include the purchasing of general consumer goods. This can be everything from tools to work wear, kitchen equipment and non-skid mats,” outlines Niels Snog. “A yearly budget is compiled, and we will then help the ship stay within this budget. Prices can differ upwards of 400 per cent from port to port, but when shipping companies outsource the management of all purchases, they don’t feel the price difference as we have agreed on a fixed budget. This means peace of mind for the shipping companies, knowing that we can guarantee a consistent quality on the ships, regardless of where they are in the world.” Initial reports of this new service offering are positive, and the growth looks set to continue over the next couple of years.
Having been established by a global leading supply company at the right time to serve an ever-emerging market, SeaStar is a company that has experienced substantial growth in a short amount of time. Not only is this attributable to the support it has behind it, but also to the unfaltering dedication it commits to serving a range of customers across the world with a wide variety of individual needs. With little sign of the market slowing down the future looks positive, yet Niels Snog is also keenly aware that new competitors are appearing on the market everyday making it more and more challenging. However, the strength and reputation already acquired by SeaStar will make it robust and able to weather any threats these may pose.
Welfare at sea
Owned by leading supply company Wrist Ship Supply
Recently reached 500 ship milestone
Diversifying to serve a growing market