The boss of Maersk has said the Suez Canal blockage caused a “mess” in its network, despite the shipping firm celebrating its “best quarter ever”.
Søren Skou, chief executive at A.P. Moller-Maersk, told investors on a quarter one earnings call the incident meant the firm’s journey towards becoming a more reliable network “was halted in its tracks for a while”.
In March, the 400m Ever Given container ship blocked the canal for six days, while approximately 400 vessels were stuck waiting to pass through.
He said: “We had a total of 50 ships sitting around the Suez Canal waiting for it to open up. That creates quite a mess in the network and it will take a few months to restore the reliability of the network.
“When the ships are sitting for a week in the Red Sea, obviously they are missing somewhere else. We will try to restore reliability as fast as we possibly can. We are deploying every ship that we have and we have also chartered more ships in order to get back that reliability earlier.”
Despite the disruption, Skou said supply chain bottlenecks and soaring demand for shipping led to “the best quarter ever in net profit for A.P. Moller Maersk by some margin”, at $3.1bn. He added Maersk’s revenue was up by 30% to $12.4bn.
He added the firm had dealt with plenty of disruption over the previous three years such as “geopolitical uncertainty, trade tensions between the US and China, IMO 2020 implementation and a pandemic”.
“Despite this, we have made continuous progress and we are a better, more profitable and more resilient business today,” he said.
Patrick Jany, CFO at Maersk, added: “It is clear that performance has been affected by the pandemic and the subsequent demand surge leading to bottlenecks and capacity issues… We now expect this situation could very well last into the fourth quarter of 2021.
“We are purchasing significantly more containers to alleviate the current bottlenecks, improve reliability and match the growth of our customers.”
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