The past year of the Port of Hamburg has reflected the volatile economic experience of Germany. Political and economic crisis hit its annual through-put and are likely to have a major impact on its future growth trajectory. Chief Analyst Thomas Cullen reports.
For the whole port, volumes fell by 6.8% year-on-year with bulk cargoes down 8.9% and container volumes down by 5.1%. The profile of demand through the year saw particular problems in the fourth quarter of the year, with the ‘peak season’ failing to arrive due to the energy crisis on the continent of Europe but also continuing high inventory levels amongst shippers.
The largest terminal operator and logistics company at the port, HHLA AG, did not suffer overly. The throughput of its Hamburg container terminals fell by 4.1%, with the total of all its terminals including that in Odessa see a drop of 7.9%. Yet increased demurrage fees and other charges cushioned the blow. At the ‘Port Logistics’ subsidiary, revenue increased by 7.4% to €1.542bn although Earnings Before Interest and Tax fell by 5.2%. One problem that HHLA’s terminals faced was increased costs of labour and transport in order to deal with congestion. Other parts of the complex HHLA group did better, with its property business increasing profits.
It is worth noting that for the wider port of Hamburg, China is firmly at the top of its list of origins and destinations, yet even China saw a fall in container volumes of 3.8%. The second and third ‘trading partners’ are the US and Singapore, both of whose container volumes were either flat or fell slightly.
Hamburg faces a future marked by considerable uncertainty. It is Germany’s largest port and its growth is in significant part reliant on the country’s trade. Yet Germany’s trade position in the world is changing rapidly. Another key part of Hamburg’s strategic marketing posture over the past thirty years has been the promise of growth in the Baltic, Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region. However, the nature of this trade and Hamburg’s position in it also very unclear.
As the statement from port’s CEO Axel Mattern observed, “the continuing uncertain situation on world markets makes it hard to deliver a forecast for the year 2023.We hope the global economy will again recover. That will aid and boost throughput for the Port of Hamburg,”
Author: Thomas Cullen
Source: Ti Insights
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