Two new governments in 2022, an inflation rate currently at 11.1 percent and recession – the British economy is facing huge challenges at the end of a turbulent year. Andreas Russ, Managing Director UK/Ireland at a. hartrodt in London, is nevertheless confident: "Even if some customers are starting to reduce volumes – we've been able to more than cushion that with new customer business with British and multinational companies." In addition, according to him, the Brexit consequences are less dramatic than feared. Since the UK's exit from the EU on January 1, 2021, the situation in the seaports has "improved to some extent", he says.
Truck capacities are available again
Until a few months ago, a. hartrodt UK was "still in total crisis mode", according to Andreas Russ. Due to a shortage of drivers, truck transports of containers had to be booked weeks in advance, congestion at Europe's seaports was accompanied by week-long ship delays: "This led to constant rebookings and extra work up to the breaking point of our employees." Now, import volumes have been greatly reduced, "truck capacities are available again," he says.
Flexible medium-sized company
Since the Brexit, Andreas Russ has observed how market structures have changed: "Some customers, for example, have established branches, built up warehouses or even taken the decision to leave markets." As a flexible medium-sized company, a. hartrodt UK, which today has over 30 employees, benefits from having remained organizationally lean even in boom times and from finding solutions to the shortage of skilled workers: "In some cases, we have hired and trained employees from outside the industry." Andreas Russ sees the international freight forwarder as "more versatilely positioned" than most of its competitors: "In addition to our export focus, we also serve niche markets such as the chemical and food industries."
For 2023, Andreas Russ predicts "major problems" for many freight forwarders in the United Kingdom because most of them are "very dependent on imports". He expects that some competitors "will no longer reach 2024" due to significantly increased personnel costs and investments in warehouses, among other things.