More signs are incoming indicating the return to normalcy of the world, after the pandemic. One such indication has been that of growth in the demand for shipping containers propelled by the growth in consumer demand. In an interview with CNBC, the chief executive of the Dutch shipping conglomerate Maersk, Soren Skou said that the prospects for the container shipping industry were good for 2021 after a lean second quarter in 2020.
As a result, he added that not only were container ships operating at the maximum capacity but there have also been shortages of container ships that have contributed to an increase in the costs. “So, we are trying to deal with a surge in demand which is completely unprecedented, both a surge in demand because the consumers are spending, but also a surge in demand because a large restocking started, as large retailers actually stopped buying stuff in Asia in the second quarter of 2020 and well into the summer,” Skou said.
Maersk is the biggest shipping company in the world and vis-à-vis its operations in the time of the pandemic’s surge and ebbing, it has done particularly well for itself. The company’s operations fell down by as much as 15% in the second quarter of 2020 but in the latter part of the year, the company’s container ships were put to good use especially because of demand from Europe and the United States.
This contributed to a growth in the company’s trade volume of about 5% as compared to the same time period in 2019. Likewise, the company’s revenues also beat market expectations by posting a pre-tax profit of about $2.7 billion for the first quarter of 2021.
Market analysts had predicted Maersk’s profits at about $2.65 billion. This profit margin translates to a growth of about 85% for the same time period in 2019. Overall, Maersk’s revenues touched $11.3 billion in this quarter at a year-on-year growth rate of about 16%.
Highlighting these increasing figures, the shipping company said, “Given the current exceptional situation where demand surge has led to bottlenecks (of shipping containers) in supply chains and equipment shortage, the first quarter of 2021 is expected to be stronger than the fourth quarter of 2020”.