The first half of 2011 has been promising for Kuehne + Nagel, with airfreight tonnage increasing by 18 percent. The global logistics firm contributes this growth, which occurred despite a second-quarter slump in the global airfreight market, with its recent foray into the perishable logistics sector.
Much of K + N’s business during the first half of 2011 occurred in the North America-to-Europe and North America-to-South America trade lanes. One route where airfreight volumes failed to meet expectations, however, was Europe to Asia.
Still, Kuehne + Nagel International CEO Reinhard Lange remains optimistic about reaching this market. “We will pursue our strategy to always outgrow the market and expand our customer portfolio,” he told Air Cargo World.
Furthermore, EBITDA-to-gross profit margin recovered slightly during this time period, increasing 3.4 percent. And the operational result for airfreight rose 22.9 percent from the second quarter of 2010.
The fact that K + N is posting growth in a challenging market is a direct result of its recent acquisitions, such as the purchase of the Amsterdam-based J van de Put Fresh Cargo Handling, company executives assert. With this procurement, K + N will manage the transportation of perishable items such as flowers, plant cuttings, fruits and vegetables. The company will also perform cold-chain storage, vacuum-cooling, and distribution to locations throughout Europe.
Lange points to the far-reaching implications of this acquisition. “The demand for transporting perishable goods is growing. And it takes special expertise to handle such shipments,” he explained. “Therefore all companies acquired in this segment are specialized and experienced in this field of business, employing personnel with specific know-how.”
K + N also gained significant market share in South America with the January acquisitions of Translago and Agencia de Aduanas Excelsia of Colombia and Mastertransport of Ecuador, three companies specializing in the transportation of perishables.
To Lange, such acquisitions are integral to K + N’s five-year expansion plan. “By acquiring specialized forwarders, Kuehne + Nagel gains access to key perishables markets and at the same time strengthens its position in regional airfreight markets,” he told Air Cargo World. “Thanks to those acquisitions — combined with Kuehne + Nagel’s existing operations in those countries — we are achieving the leading position in the South American perishables segment.”