When Justin Archard and Simon Guthrie launched their new Breakbulk Shipbroking business three months ago, we made them promise to do a follow-up interview after their first 100 days in business. Here it is:
How have your first 100 days in business been? Did everything go as you expected?
“Yes & No. Yes – we have done some nice business and we have good prospects developing. No – because just as we opened up the breakbulk market essentially inverted from a Buyers market to a Sellers market on a sixpence. I was around at the start of the last hot market in 2005 but it took time to build, so much so that we never really thought we were in a hot market. It just felt like good business. But in this ‘inversion’ Carriers are awash with opportunities all of a sudden and have to adapt strategies very much on the hoof. As brokers, we are spending our days looking for space on ships. 10 weeks ago we’d have been looking for cargoes. It’s a complete Volte Face.”
Has the breakbulk industry welcomed your new company?
“I think so. We are not newcomers to the market. Both Simon and I have been active for a long time so we already know many people active in the business today and we have been able to continue relationships rather easily but we are now in a position to share our knowledge more. Pure shipbrokers in the breakbulk space are rare and both Carriers and Shippers are still a little unsure of what we can bring to an arena of Forwarders and Logistics companies. What they are finding is that we are well informed, very experienced across all the activity segments and we are discrete.”
What services have you been offering to the breakbulk shipping industry?
“We have been working in both Chartering and SnP.”
Are your clients mainly based in Germany or worldwide?
“Worldwide. We are active everywhere. A good example of this is that both Simon and I were recently in our Hamburg office at 3am trading parcels between South America and Asia. We want to be offering skilled brokerage services in all the key markets and we expect in the not too distant future to have a physical presence in these market locations.”
What market segments need your assistance the most right now?
“There isn’t one segment that needs us more than another. The Wind business is well covered and we are not taking too much interest in it for now. Energy and Construction are ubiquitous and there is always activity that can benefit from a service like ours. “
Any plans for expansion just yet?
“We will expand into new market areas but we need first to establish our brand and our working principles. Our House Style. This is very important to us. We must be known for bringing and maintaining high levels of market practice. And as Shippers and Carriers discover over time how best to use our service and make the best use of our knowledge we shall enhance our presence in key market areas.”
Is there any message you would like to give to the industry or anything else you would like to add?
“One World Shipbrokers will be launching a new Index for the breakbulk Industry in April. Called the “One World Shipbrokers – Market Sentiment Index” and supported by the Journal of Commerce (JOC) it will collect current and forward-looking insights from a curated group of Owners and Operators to create a quarterly window into the drivers of the breakbulk MPP market. Much like the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) used to gauge market activity in various segments, a number higher than 50 denotes market growth and under 50 denotes market contraction. The MSI will score on the same principle – higher than 50 is an improving market and lower than 50 is a deteriorating market. The first Edition is almost ready to publish. I hope in time that it can be come a reference for the breakbulk shipping cycle”.
BBN wishes Justin and Simon much success for the future of their business.