Emirates Shipping Line is Hong Kong"s youngest container business.
The company differentiated itself early on as a ?boutique? operation ahead of the curve when it came to carving out niche routes with rich future potential.
In the three years of its existence nothing has changed. ?Emirates operates eight scheduled weekly services, catering mainly to the important markets of China, Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa and the Mediterranean,? said senior vice-president of marketing, Jamshed Safdar.
?Our service to the niche but fast-growing markets in East Africa is now part of our portfolio. Our service coverage is adaptive to growth potential and prospective trends in trade lanes within these regions.?
Like any other liner company, Emirates is feeling the pain of the economic downturn. But Mr Safdar and the company are philosophical and feel they are well equipped to weather the worst.
Cautious approach amid the economic crisis
?We are undertaking a cautious approach amid the economic crisis. Although cyclical downturns are part of the industrial long-term trend, no one could have imagined the extent and impact that have encompassed multi-sectors and multi-dimensions of the industry.
?It has almost reached hysterical levels. Part of this is the result of bad economic management. But talking down the market by the general media has also played a part,? he said.
Mr Safdar is pretty sure that the company"s lean management structure, together with a strong focus on customer service and cutting-edge information technology, will see the company through.
?A lean management structure helps us in the decision making process as speed of action is key in this rapidly-changing environment,? he said. ?Our focus is on customer servicing, which has been and will remain our hallmark strength. Our IT support to further fine tune this effort, so as to make it seamless, will remain our highest priority.?
Mr Safdar said that the decision to focus on the core markets of Asia and the Middle East was the correct bet, as all the indications are that these regions will be the most resilient during the downturn.
A forecast for 2009
?As conditions will continue to be challenging for all industries in the economic environment through 2009, certain trade lanes will suffer more and others less. However, we envisage demand will continue to be nurtured in our major markets of China, India and the Middle East ? it"s just that overall growth will be less strong than it was.
?As container shipping business is cyclical, the negative effects of what is happening in Europe and the US will be absorbed somewhat by these developing markets, which we continue to leverage on over the coming year.?