Established in Oslo, Norway in 1971,
EMS Ship Supply is a division of Eitzen Maritime Services (EMS), a company that has existed since 1883 and has grown and diversified over the course of time, spawning various divisions, each aimed at different parts of the maritime industry. Providing marine and offshore supplies, marine equipment, spare parts and services to vessels of all types and sizes, EMS Ship Supply has spent the last decade experiencing a rapid expansion process, one that has been achieved through both organic growth and acquisitions: “Some ten years ago EMS began the process of acquiring other ship supply companies whose activities were then consolidated under one general ship supply brand,” explains Hans-Henrik Pedersen, managing director of EMS Ship Supply, Netherlands.
The most recent of these acquisitions was in 2008 when EMS purchased Seven Seas Ship Chandlers in Dubai, the largest ship supply company in the world: “A major player with a strong brand known throughout the shipping community, Seven Seas is a large entity which today acts as EMS Ship Supply’s main stock distribution hub,” Hans-Henrik continues. “This positions the company as one of the two largest ship suppliers in terms of volume with more than 20 branches in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, South America and the US.
“Further to these branches the company also boasts an extensive network of franchisees situated in a vast number of ports in all four corners of the globe. Their role is to provide EMS backed services to vessels entering port; a task that will often be initiated by the shipping companies by liaising with EMS as the single point of contact. These franchise agreements provide a number of mutual benefits for both EMS and the franchisee. For EMS Ship Supply it allows the company to increase its presence in the market and the franchisee gets valuable access to EMS’s supply chain giving it a competitive advantage in that particular local market through lower purchase costs.”
As a forward thinking company, EMS Ship Supply is constantly looking to develop new business methods and tools that bring added value and better overall service to its customers. Internally the company has spent the better part of the second half of 2011 preparing to switch to a barcode system of recording orders in all of its main warehouses: “The switch from a manual paper-based system will allow the company to enhance the efficiency of its whole operation,” Hans-Henrik states. “What it will also achieve is a reduction in entry errors, which will give the whole process from initial order placement to delivery a increased level of transparency.
“Externally EMS Ship Supply has also recently launched the first version of its own online web shop. Working in much the same way as other online shopping websites, it offers ship operators not only a complete inventory of every item available in the company’s warehouses, but also specific local selections. So, as an example, a vessel owner or operator heading to Singapore can access the web shop and get an onscreen display of all the items that are needed, the price and the lead-in time that ensures the delivery can be made on time.”
This web based system is clearly something the company has great plans for and it will only become more of a prominent tool as it is perfected: “The system is little more than two months old so there are still small creases to be ironed out and adjustments to be made. One issue that recently needed to be dealt with was the ability to utilise the system when a vessel is in an area with no internet access. The answer was to create a downloadable version of the web shop that allows the service to be used while offline. With this piece of software an order can be drafted and is then sent once in range of a wireless signal,” Hans-Henrik says. “The ship supply industry does, admittedly, in some places have a reputation for being old fashioned and primitive. For this reason it is important that EMS Ship Supply plays a leading role in driving innovation with the creation of new solutions.”
The last several years have been a time of substantial growth for EMS Ship Supply as a whole in terms of activity with the company currently experiencing an increase in orders compared to 2010. Though this growth is not evenly spread, general ship supply orders have fallen in some areas due to the fact that fewer ships have been calling into port since the financial crisis took hold, those regions and sectors that are buoyant, the offshore market off the coast of America, Africa and Europe, as well as military sector in the Middle East, have helped give EMS Ship Supply considerable optimism for the future.
This feeling of optimism can be sensed when Hans-Henrik goes on to discuss the company’s plans for the years ahead: “Arguably the highest priority is for EMS Ship Supply to continue to grow as a global entity, through both acquisitions and organic growth. Despite being physically present in nearly all of the major marine hubs around the world, there are several emerging markets where the company would like to either increase the presence it already has through franchises or enter for the first time. Certain examples of these locations would be Brazil and Venezuela, where offshore projects are on the rise, and China, where as yet EMS Ship Supply has made no major inroads.
“Aside from its core business of supplying stock items, EMS Ship Supply will also look to further develop its other activities, namely its cargo hold cleaning products brand and its ability to supply complete logistical support when it comes to the delivery of spare parts and machine components. Developing these added value services is just as important to EMS Ship Supply as increasing its traditional activities and will play just as big of a role in helping the company grow into an even more dominant force in the ship supply industry.”