13.01.2014 – Weserkurier (von Maren Beneke)

Bremen. Kieserling set up a container business in Bremen many years ago. Following the restructuring of the holding company as a newly established limited company (Aktiengesellschaft) in 2013, the company sold its shares in EKB Container Logistik. Kieserling is now setting its sights on a slice of the international market.

According to Michael Müller, it was time to take a step towards internationalisation. It is almost exactly a year since Müller joined the holding company as Managing Partner. Since then he has achieved a lot in the company. On paper, it continues to have its head office in Bremen but since its merger with Indian logistics provider Compass Ocean Logistics on 1 January 2013 it has a more international focus than it had in previous years.

The striking green trucks are of course still to be seen on the Kieserling grounds in the Freight Village (Güterverkehrszentrum, GVZ). ‘Regional and national transport continues to be important for us’, says Michael Müller, ‘but we will not be increasing our own fleet for the time being.’ Container transport between ports and hinterland will in future be outsourced to subcontractors.

The reasoning behind this decision is well-founded. As is now known, the company, which previously operated mainly in the areas of contract logistics and land transport, parted with its 50 percent share in EKB Container Logistik GmbH on 1 January this year. At the same time, it acquired the Bremen-based international forwarder A. Hegeler, which specialises in air and sea freight. Kieserling Group sales will reach approximately EUR 90 million in the future.

New markets in Asia and America

‘In the past, our market had a regional focus. Today, our market consists of logistics services in the growth regions of the world,’ says Michael Müller, explaining the reason for the change in focus. The sole shareholder of Kieserling Holding sees future scope for the Group in the Middle East, China, India and North America. As a result, he is steering the company away from business activities that are not aligned with the new strategy of internationalisation.

This new strategy has its genesis in the new direction taken by the business following the merger of the Kieserling companies and Compass Ocean Logistics early last year. Together, the companies operate under the name Compass Logistics International AG (CLI). CLI currently provides work for 1,200 employees around the world. The Group has 35 branches in 18 countries and provides logistics services tailored to in individual industries – including clients in the oil and gas industry, the textiles and furniture sector, plant construction and the beverage industry. The newly established company expects to generate sales of EUR 145 million in 2014.

According to Michael Müller, the realignment of the Kieserling Group was overdue. Between 2010 and 2012, the Kieserling Group had to cope with the loss of a major client in the beverage industry. The vehicle fleet was no longer working at full capacity, some of the warehouses were empty. ‘There was a lack of momentum’, says the Kieserling boss. ‘Anyone who is operating from a comfortable situation can easily forget to implement urgently needed change processes.’ In order to equip itself for the future, the Group invested in the Bremen site last year: since September, Kieserling has been operating a second, 32,000-square metre logistics centre in the Freight Village (Güterverkehrszentrum, GVZ). The company invested EUR 18 million for the new centre and, by its own reckoning, created an additional 350 jobs.

The realignment of the Group also seems to have been accepted by existing customers. ‘All of them have remained with us’, says the Managing Partner. Many of them welcomed the fact that Kieserling was expanding its product portfolio and positioning itself on the international stage. It has also helped to attract potential new customers in the Middle East. ‘We are just about to sign contracts with a number of companies.’

So it’s a case of ‘all things new’ at Kieserling? Not quite. ‘We are not relocating our activities but simply expanding them’, says Müller, ‘we are enhancing existing services.’ This applies also to the workforce at the international forwarder A. Hegeler, which Kieserling has retained. Michael Müller has clearly defined objectives for his logistics company: ‘We want to continue to grow organically.’ Additional locations are to be established in Germany and abroad. The Managing Partner does not rule out further acquisitions. But he doesn’t want to go into specifics. He will only say: ‘Several projects are at the decision-making stage.’

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