Hamburg Süd is celebrating its 150th anniversary
150 years by your side - thank you!

Dear valued Customer,

On 4 November at 11.30 a.m., it is exactly 150 years since Hamburg Süd was founded. The aim at the time was to establish reliable shipping connections between Hamburg and Brazil and the La Plata region. This trade lane is still one of Hamburg Süd’s main routes.

But, of course, the world has changed a lot since then, and that is also true for Hamburg Süd. Today, we are a global carrier and a proud member of the Maersk family. But what has been our trademark throughout our history still applies today and will continue to apply in the future: our consistent customer focus and proximity. This defines our company’s DNA. Everything we do, we do for you. We are aware that without your trust in us, such a long successful company history would not have been possible.

Therefore, on the occasion of this anniversary, we would like to express our sincere thanks to you, our highly valued customers. It has always been and will continue to be a pleasure and an honour for us to provide you with our services.

Looking firmly ahead
On the 150th anniversary of the shipping company, Hamburg Süd CEO Poul Hestbaek discusses ...

... the present and the future of Hamburg Süd:

Maersk’s acquisition of Hamburg Süd in 2017 was a genuine game changer for us. As part of the Maersk family, we are excellently positioned for the future. We combine the best of both worlds: With Maersk – the global market leader – as our parent company, we enjoy access to the largest vessel fleet and the most modern container fleet in the world as well as the most extensive network in our industry, with fast connections between all continents. Our customers greatly benefit from the additional services we can offer together with Maersk. In addition to the already established door-to-door inland transports, this will soon also include warehousing, customs clearance, cold chain solutions and much more. The future will be all about end-to-end logistics, and we will continue to expand our portfolio of related offerings – always paired with the very personal customer service that Hamburg Süd is famous for.

In all of this, we are fortunate to belong not only to the world market leader, but also to the technology leader in container logistics – be it with IT-related issues like blockchain or R&D geared towards developing truly CO2-neutral fuels to further efforts to decarbonise shipping. Maersk has tremendous strength and dynamism, which directly benefits us and therefore our customers, as well. So, I’m very optimistic about the next 150 years.

... the biggest challenges faced by shipping:

At the top of the list is shipping’s need to become climate neutral. There’s no way around this, and it needs to be done quickly. But making this a reality will require enormous efforts and major investments from all players. For example, the industry needs to come up with alternative propulsion systems and procure very large quantities of carbon-neutral fuels. This is technically possible, but it’s also complicated, and huge production capacities still need to be put in place. Through Maersk, Hamburg Süd is also assuming a pioneering role in decarbonisation. We have set clear, ambitious targets; we have ordered more sustainable ships that can be operated with bio-methanol; and we are working hard to procure the necessary green fuels. We are convinced that making shipping climate-neutral by 2050 is feasible.

Besides that – and this is the second major challenge we are facing right now – global supply chains need to start functioning more fluidly again and more reliably than they currently do. This disruption has been triggered by strong external influences – and, above all, by the coronavirus pandemic and the upheaval it has caused in the flow of goods. This has then been reinforced by major surges in demand in several countries, such as the United States. All partners along the transport chain need to work together more efficiently, and the existing infrastructure could be better utilised, too. We need to have a better dovetailing of the modes of transport. I am convinced that gains in digitalisation, including the use of artificial intelligence, will lead to a lot of progress in many areas, such as with optimising processes at the terminals, which are often overloaded these days, and connecting hinterland transports. Most importantly, digitalisation will also enable much better visibility in the supply chains.

... the future role of shipping in the global transport of goods:

Shipping will maintain its dominant role. In the vast majority of cases, maritime transport is simply the most economical as well as most eco-friendly way of transporting large quantities of goods. And things will stay that way, too. With new fuels, it will become even more sustainable. What’s more, I’m convinced that global trade will continue to grow, as it is the foundation of global prosperity and of international understanding, too. Those who trade with each other are more likely to avoid conflicts so as to not suffer economic harm. Individual flows of goods will always change. But given the growing global population and rising economic growth worldwide, the volume of trade will keep increasing. I don’t expect to see a de-globalisation process – or at least not as a result of 3D printing – although near-shoring could have a certain impact. The ship will remain the top choice among modes of transport, as it is efficient and extremely cost-effective per product transported and it will become even more eco-friendly going forward. This has ultimately been shown by the coronavirus pandemic, as well: Even during the first, rigorous lockdown, the shipping industry and the terminals managed to keep the global exchange of goods up and running at all times and despite all the difficulties. That has been a magnificent achievement.

... what this 150th anniversary means to Hamburg Süd and to him personally:

A whole lot has happened in the world over the last 150 years. It’s something special when a company makes it through the sometimes profound upheavals over such a long period of time and is successful. One mustn’t forget that this has included economic crises, pandemics, wars and massive structural changes in our industry, such as containerisation beginning in the 1970s. It wasn’t long before those who took the wrong decisions at the time and didn’t recognise the advantages of containers were completely out of the business.

On an anniversary like this, one feels pride just as much as humility and, above all, gratitude towards our customers as well as previous generations of employees and managers, who have clearly always made very good decisions at Hamburg Süd over the past century and a half. Today, as part of the Maersk Group, we are very well-positioned for the future. All Hamburg Süd employees can be proud of that, and I‘m very grateful to them for their hard work and dedication. Our 150th anniversary is truly a reason to celebrate.

Poul Hestbaek

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November 1, 2021