One month before Cruise Ship Miami, one of the maritime and cruise industry’s largest events, Colin Hatton, Regional Vice President for Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) in the Americas has talked of the prospect of steady growth across the region in 2012, despite a bleak outlook for the world shipping economy in general.
Commenting on the ships agency business in North America, Mr Hatton said: “The traditional shipping market is perhaps more mature here than in other parts of the world, but the ever-growing demands of the industry continue to open up business opportunities for our core capabilities – not just within ships agency, but across safety products, marine chemicals and marine products.”
“We are seeing strong activity from the offshore segment and from traders and charterers. In addition, the supply of agency services to the cruise sector in the Americas is likely to increase as the industry continues its geographical expansion.”
Looking to South America, Mr Hatton is clearly delighted with the dramatic growth that WSS has experienced in the last 24 months, adding; “Our investment in staff and infrastructure in this growing economy is paying dividends and we expect South America to be a major contributor to our business in the coming years.”
Mr Hatton went on to say that the main focus for WSS throughout 2012 will be on sales resource as the company looks to target high-growth sectors including offshore and cruise.
Despite the positive viewpoint, Mr Hatton echoed wider industry concerns over fuel prices combined with the financial and operational impact of new regulations. However, he was quick to point out that the resuming of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has had a positive on WSS during 2011.
Whilst WSS’s Ships Agency business is has seen rapid growth, WSS has also reported a significant increase in sales of the LRE programme across North America.
WSS’s market-leading global Liferaft Exchange Programme (LRE) exchanges service-due liferafts and life-saving appliances for operational ones, allowing vessel operators to take better control of costs and reducing the chance of getting caught out by unforeseen service dates and weak links in the supply chain which can prove to be costly.
WSS Technical Manager for North and Central America, George Farrelly said; “The growing success of the global LRE programme has been mirrored in the region over the past three years.”
Mr Farrelly confirmed a significant increase in new customer sales, with several Fleet Agreements signed throughout 2011, saying; “The region in 2012 has good prospects, and we can see further opportunities to grow in several other market segments.”
So what does 2012 hold for WSS in the region? According to Mr Hatton, the challenges for the traditional shipping sector in North America resonance those felt globally, with concern focussing on oversupply of tonnage, fuel costs, regulatory pressure and liquidity.
He said; “As with 2011, this year may be tough for many of our customers, but we see opportunities to improve their operational efficiency through delivery of services via our global network and our continued commitment to offering a wide portfolio of quality products and services.”
WSS will attend Cruise Shipping Miami from 12-15 March alongside sister company Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions (WTS) and senior executives and product experts will be available to talk to customers about the range of WWS products and services, as well as to answer questions and share ideas and plans for the region moving into 2013.
Now in its’ 28th year, Cruise Shipping Miami continues to be hailed as one of the world’s leading exhibition and conferences for the cruise industry, bringing together global suppliers and buyers for a week of networking, sourcing and education, with attendance figures set to top last year’s 1,800 cruise liner owners and operators.
Wilhelmsen Ships Service supplies safety products and services as well as Unitor marine products, Nalfleet marine chemicals, logistics and ships agency services