The new year begins with renewed hope for a better future. A year that will have its fair share of unforeseen events. Industrial action at the ports, Covid, wars, energy crisis -and now galloping inflation that is further undermining France’s trade balance…
For the past three years, the pace of change has been accelerating and we will have to learn to live with it, to adapt. The cycles in the shipping business have become erratic, making any attempt at forecasting a complex, even risky task. Nevertheless, Marfret has been able to seize the opportunity brought by this profound change to implement a transformation, steering its teams towards digitalization and entering into fruitful alliances.
In this way, over the past three years, we have undertaken a thorough overhaul of the IT department, moving to software as a service (SaaS) -based platforms. SaaS represents a resilient and secure solution in a context of increased cyber-attacks. It also allows our teams to free themselves from many repetitive and time-consuming tasks to better provide you with tailored transport solutions with greater added value. An e-booking service will be made available to our clients during the first quarter of 2023, the additional booking option being accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The aim is to adapt to your imperatives while continuing to provide the plus points that constitute Marfret’s strength: teams who are receptive and who pride themselves in being close to their clients and providing a customized service. Incidentally, I would like to pay tribute to our teams at all our branches who work hard to provide you with the best possible service.
In a shifting context, we have successfully managed to expand the Marfret network towards new horizons, with the opening of the MPV – MultiPurpose Vessel – service between North Europe, French Guiana and the West Indies and the IEX Italy-Egypt Express service.
We are also boosting our presence in the West Indies zone by increasing the available allocation to compensate for the departure of Maersk. Marfret remains faithful to this long-established destination despite the diminishing attractiveness of the West Indian market, for which the government has asked the shipping industry to make a considerable effort, without this having had any perceptible impact on the local consumers’ spending power.
Marseille, its birthplace, remains close to the company’s heart, despite the surprising stand taken by its mayor in the summer of 2022 stigmatizing the shipping industry by launching a petition condemning the pollution caused by ships. Yet French shipowners, most of whom are based in Marseille, are in the vanguard of those concerned about the effects of climate change, introducing technological innovations to address the challenge of energy transition long before any new regulations came into force. We applaud the International Maritime Organisation’s decision, taken at the 79th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in December, 2022, to create an emission control area (ECA) for sulphur oxide and particulates, with effect from 1st May 2025 and covering the whole of the Mediterranean Sea.
In 2023, we shall continue to sail together on seas and oceans that, we hope, will be calmer. To our Ukrainian crew members, faced with the difficulties of a war, I extend my support and wishes for peace.
Colleagues, partners, clients, suppliers, I wish you, and your families, a very happy New Year.