Jacques Saadé ’s Group celebrated in 2013 its 35th Anniversary. Having been involved since day one in this adventure, how have you lived through these 35 years?
These years have gone fast but I lived every moment of them intensely and with a hidden emotion. I want to associate to the success of our Group the men and the women who work in the company, who go beyond their limits oftenly, who secure new business every day, who start new activities, all those who successfully rise to the challenges of our industry. They have my admiration and my gratitude.
Leading our Group is a person of exception, Mr. Jacques Saadé the founder, a visionary, a man of innovation, driven by passion, creator of ideas, persistent, a natural leader, and big-hearted personality, a Lord of the Seas. By his side, Rodolphe stands ready, Tanya dedicated with talent, and Jacques Junior always active.
What in your view has been a major milestone of these 35 years with Jacques Saadé?
Not only it is difficult to choose one event in such an eventful history but also, it is not in my nature to look back, I always tend to look forward. Every day brings its new event, and CMA CGM history is built on its daily achievements.
Nevertheless, one can recall the success of our external growth with the acquisition of ANL, DELMAS, CNC, MacAndrews and COMANAV, all successful players in their respective fields with CGM remaining our most significant acquisition. All these companies became part of the group together with their staff with neither drama nor issues, to the contrary.
In this context, CMA CGM acquired a recognized level of expertise which must be utilized again should a new opportunity arise.
What difference have you noticed between shipping in 1978 and how it is today, in 2013?
Container shipping today is not that different from what it was in 1978. The industry remains open to all but only some happy few will be able to turn a profit; they will need an in-depth knowledge of all shipping activities, and they will need courage, imagination though remaining hands-on as well as the ability to take prompt decisions. Like in 1978, freight rates remain subject to market supply and demand without benefitting any more from the protective umbrella of conferences suppressed since some years now.
However, our environment has changed:
From a “regional” start, we are now “global”. We have successfully implemented the netting of various liner services connecting all continents with the assistance of performing IT systems and a finely tuned operation management.
To our initial liner operations, we have added land based activities generating welcomed additional revenues such as port terminals, dry ports, intermodal, logistics, all services completing and improving service to customers.
Last but not least, we have very early pioneered the implementation of measures and technologies aimed at protecting the environment, our responsibility towards our children and grandchildren.
In your views, what have been the major challenges?
Better than looking back, let us project ourselves in the future. It is my opinion that as a priority, we should develop our activities in South America, in Africa and in the Indian Sub-Continent.
We can and we must set ambitious market share targets in those parts of the world which still enjoy significant growth. This implies that we deploy new vessels which we will operate in services which we need to control in order to secure our longevity.
We must also continue developing our land-based activities such as port terminals, dry ports, intermodal, container depots and logistics in these three areas, all improving service to customers and contributing positively to our bottom line.