“While the shape of the shipping industry in North America is fairly stable, we are expecting more global demand from our cruise and offshore customers,” comments Philip Bannerman, Sales Director for Wilhelmsen Ships Service in the Americas.
Bannerman, who is based at the company’s Houston, Texas office, also believes that Mexico has more potential for development. Commenting on the overall health of the ships agency business in North America, he says, “The traditional shipping market is perhaps more ‘mature’ than in other parts of the world, but the ever growing demand for energy continues to open up business opportunities for all our business streams. We see increased activity from the offshore segment and traders and charterers. In addition, the supply of agency and logistics services to the cruise sector is likely to increase as the industry continues its geographical expansion.
“Our main investment focus is on sales resource with the right competence to target the market segments we expect to grow.” Focusing in more detail on the cruise sector, he observes that the industry has weathered the global recession very well. “Bookings are strong and ticket prices are rising,” he says. “The cruise industry is continuing to expand in Europe and into new markets such as the Far East and South America.”
“There are major concerns currently, however, over fuel prices combined with the financial and operational impact of new regulations. On the other hand, the offshore industry in the US Gulf suffered following the BP spill and many assets were either laid up or redeployed overseas. Now, deepwater drilling is starting to resume. Consequently, higher oil prices will be good for this industry and encourage investment in new markets.”
According to Bannerman the concerns and challenges for the traditional shipping sector in North America echoes the global conditions, namely oversupply of tonnage, fuel costs, regulatory pressure and liquidity. “2011 is likely to be a tough year for many of our customers,” he says, “and we see opportunities to improve their operational efficiency by using our global network and wide portfolio of products and services.”