a. hartrodt was able to close the 2020 pandemic year with a gross forwarding profit (gross profit) of 112.1 million euros. This is the first time since 2016 that the gross forwarding profit has decreased slightly – the bottom line is 0.9 percent less than in 2019. However, Andreas Schroen, Chief Financial Officer in the management holding company of the international freight forwarder, was surprised by this good result by the end of the year in Covid times: "At the beginning of March 2020, I had expected a net loss for the year." Special business had a positive effect: "For example, we flew vaccines or handled ventilators as air and sea freight."
Higher freight rates boost divisional revenues
Freight forwarding revenue rose by 2.7 percent year-on-year to 474.5 million euros. Schroen attributes this to higher freight rates. In airfreight (38 percent share of sales) and trucking (3 percent share of sales), revenues increased despite lower order volumes. In the important sea freight sector (56 percent share of sales), this was not possible "because we did not fully pass on the extreme rate increase to customers," Schroen explains.
National companies increasingly important for total sales
About half of a. hartrodt's revenue was generated in Europe. Here, the 5.8 percent increase is attributable to Northern Europe/Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and UK/Ireland. Strong growth in forwarding revenues in China (plus 55 percent) had a positive impact on Asian sales. Revenues also increased in Oceania. As part of the global regionalization strategy, individual country companies are increasingly contributing to total sales. "We want to focus the company more strongly on growth," says Schroen. In terms of financing, he sees "no risk in the next few years" because a. hartrodt has secured additional funds from banks in 2019 and 2020.
Having invested around 5.2 million euros in digitization in 2020, a. hartrodt is continuing to invest in IT: "We are constantly optimizing internal processes and our customer offering," says Schroen. In 2021, he expects to achieve sales of almost 630 million euros.