The ingredients of a great maritime nation

The ingredients of a great maritime nation

Caroline Huot from UniMarine reflects on Italy’s shipping strengths.

My job as a global provider of marine lubricants keeps me travelling across the world more days of the year than perhaps is healthy. However, I can say without a doubt that any trip that takes in Italy is always a pleasure. There is always something special about visiting Italian owners – heritage, kindness, prudence, savvy – these are just some of the words I’d use to describe them.

Italian owners go back generations. Yes, they have adapted to corporate environments, but they still tend to be private, family companies with a wealth of experience. It is this knowledge, handed down through centuries, that makes them intuitively conservative, with a canny knack to understand cycles, knowing when to buy and sell. Italian owners tend to stand out for their entrepreneurial zeal and their strong values.

Italy tends to be a resilient market. This downturn has been harsh on the local scene, but speaking with people on the ground it is clear that owners are now chomping at the bit to get back wheeling and dealing.

Another great aspect about Italian shipowning that is quite different to many other maritime nations is the geographic spread of the owners. In many countries, just one or two cities tend to hog most of the shipowners. Whether you’re in Rome, Genoa, Ravenna or Naples you’ll meet up with old friends – and just across the border in places like Monaco and Lugarno there’s plenty more Italian owners too.

The ports scene is impressive in this Mediterranean nation with a very strong set up that stretches the length of the peninsula all the way down to Sicily. The port of Genoa has been doing especially well of late, taking lots of business from Algeciras and Marseilles over the past five years.

Finally, another reason why Italy is such a great maritime nation is down to its strong commitment to training, something that is increasingly rare in Europe. There is good collaboration between government and the private sector in this regard. I’ve visited a number of schools and have been impressed at the infrastructure and the quality of courses and the wide experience of the teaching bodies. Moreover, many of these schools come with guaranteed employment for graduates as a commitment of the supporting ship owners towards these institutions – something not to be taken lightly in today’s troubled markets.

In short, Italy has a huge amount to offer maritime-wise, and I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

This article was first published in Splash’s Italian Market Report 2016, which launched last week. Readers can access the full magazine online for free by clicking here.

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