• ITVI.USA
    15,285.540
    -94.080
    -0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.776
    -0.010
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.450
    -0.050
    -0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,256.620
    -93.130
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    -0.240
    -6.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.950
    -0.020
    -0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.440
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.310
    0.060
    1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.150
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.950
    -0.100
    -2.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    1.000
    0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,285.540
    -94.080
    -0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.776
    -0.010
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.450
    -0.050
    -0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,256.620
    -93.130
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    -0.240
    -6.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.950
    -0.020
    -0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.440
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.310
    0.060
    1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.150
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.950
    -0.100
    -2.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    1.000
    0.8%
American Shipper

APL enters new chapter

CEO Nicolas Sartini said the period of uncertainty before its sale to CMA CGM is over and the brand is ready to flex its U.S. expertise and innovative spirit again.

   There was a conscious decision by the parent of container line APL, the CMA CGM Group, to go against the grain when it came to managing its new brand.
   As Rodolphe Saade, the chief executive officer of the group, noted this week at JOC’s TPM 2017 conference in Long Beach put it, his company is a “firm believer in multi-branding. We don’t believe absorbing brand brings value.”
   That’s a strategy CMA CGM has used across its acquisitions, but it’s particularly apt in the case of APL. In many ways, the APL brand was waiting to be reinvigorated.
   The line struggled under the weight of uncertainty for several years in the wake of the 2009 recession and a subsequent “for sale” period. Some of that uncertainty was resolved when CMA CGM acquired APL in 2016.
   Nicolas Sartini, APL’s CEO since June 2016 and previously an executive with CMA CGM, said that uncertainty slowed the momentum of the line.
   “You lose a bit of the energy and initiative,” Sartini said in an interview with American Shipper this week. “From June, we drew a clear line, the APL brand was going to be developed. The energy is back.”
   Sartini said APL, with its clear direction, will benefit from synergies with CMA CGM around pooling the two lines’ global fleets, including repositioning, reducing empty moves, and avoiding idling of vessels. He said the savings are in the tens of millions of dollars.
   Those synergies extend to back office functions, and the development of a new group SAP IT system (covering both lines) that is expected to be implemented over the next year. So APL and CMA CGM will have separate dedicated sales and customer service functions, but will pool administrative functions and rationalize in places where the two lines might have independently had staff.
   At the same time, the two lines will compete independently, including on the transpacific, where the group has become the single largest operator.
   Sartini said that the lines will compete at times but that sales teams are likely to back off on core customers of the other lines.
   APL has long been known as a line that understood the complexities of the U.S. market, and Sartini said the plan is to leverage expertise from U.S.-based holdovers, continue the carrier’s tradition of innovation, and marry that to broader scale advantages of the CMA CGM Group.
   On the innovation front, last week, APL announced a new day-definite delivery service, Eagle Guaranteed, to six U.S. inland locations using Union Pacific rail service. Sartini said APL expects to extract a premium of several hundred dollars from the new service (with the premium returned if a shipment misses its guaranteed window).
   An associated product, Eagle Stow, promises availability of a box within 12 hours of vessel arrival, loaded on a chassis and ready to delivered.
   “Where we have control on ocean product and the terminal side, these are the type of things we’d like to develop,” Sartini said.
   The Eagle products will be attached to APL’s U.S.-flagged vessels, which operate on nine services (six to Asia, two to Guam and one to the Middle East). Sartini said APL will also begin operating to Guam weekly, instead of biweekly, providing competition to the only other carrier providing weekly capacity to Guam, Matson.
   In terms of transpacific services, once APL shifts from the G6 Alliance to the Ocean Alliance in April, it will have access to 14 sailings on the trade. The U.S.-flagged services are meant to provide price and service differentiation in a market that will be governed, in large part, by three alliances starting in spring.
   Sartini also noted APL’s absorption of U.S. Lines‘ book of business, plus the addition of new chief operating officer Ed Aldridge, adds scale to APL’s transpacific portfolio. The idea is clearly to unleash anew what had largely been seen as a dormant power on the transpacific.
   “There is clear direction, backed by a strong group, but with a different approach,” Sartini said.

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