Maersk Line’s strategy is to grow ‘in line’ with main competitors

Maersk Line’s strategy is to grow ‘in line’ with main competitors

As Maersk Line finally came out with details on its record breaking new boxship today, a senior official at the world’s top container shipping company has maintained the Danish company is not adding to the glut of boxship capacity thanks to its “active capacity management”.

The Madrid Maersk called in Tianjin last week on her maiden voyage on an Asia-Europe route. The 20,568 teu vessel trumps the MOL Triumph as the largest containership in the world. However, before its peers slam the line for adding capacity at a fragile time for the box sector, Maersk Line’s chief operating officer has stressed in a release: “Our strategy is to grow in line with our main competitors”.

The Madrid Maersk will be joined by 10 sisterships and Maersk has another 16 boxships of differing sizes also to deliver.

Nevertheless, the Copenhagen-based line says its orderbook is less as a proportion than most of its rivals. The 27 new vessels coming into Maersk Line’s fleet are equal to 11% of Maersk Line’s current fleet, compared to an industry average of 15%.

“If you look at our current orderbook and also the capacity we are able to return to charter owners, which is roughly 20%, we are in a pretty good position,” Toft maintained.

“We are expecting to grow this year, and expecting global growth of about 3%, but if those things don’t happen we also have a powerful ability to adjust our network to changing conditions in a way that many other shipping lines do not have,” he added.

It is what Maersk Line calls active capacity management and it includes handing in chartered ships, recycling old ships and idling unneeded ones. The decision to delay the second order of the 15,226 teu H-Class ships by six months is also an example of the line’s capacity planning.

“Global growth may pick up this year or not, but these are factors we can’t control,” Toft said, concluding: “What we can control is our position as the market leader and cost leader and we strengthen both of those with these new vessels, while continuing to actively manage and optimise our network, improve our utilisation and drive down our costs.”

Alphaliner statistics show the Maersk fleet, including newbuilds but not the soon to be taken over Hamburg Sud, now totals 3.32m slots giving it a 16% global market share. The acquisition of Hamburg Sud, the world’s 10th largest liner, will add another 561,000 slots.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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