As Asian Shipyards merge and reorganise – what does this mean for the supply chain?

by Gillian Lovering

This week Mike Coomber, our Managing Director, took parts as a panellist on the Riviera Maritime Media Webinar: “What Asian shipyard reorganisation means for the maritime supply chain” under the webinar series ‘Maritime Leaders Week’.

Mike was joined by BRL Shipping Consultants Founder and Chief Executive, Barry Luthwaite, Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) Chief Executive, Tom Chant, and Danish Export Association Head of Marine, Mark Lerche.

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The panel discussed their own insights into the recent developments of China, South Korea and now Japan shipyards consolidating into smaller but more powerful groups and how the UK and EU supply chain can expect to find it tougher to win business in Asia.

Mike indicated that, if South Korea’s transaction goes to plan, the resulting company and its Chinese counterpart will together handle almost 45% of global ship orders. With four of the biggest shipyards on their way to becoming two, Japanese Shipyards may be under pressure to consolidate.

In any merger there is always a parent/child relationship, with the parent taking the lead – in this case, that will affect whose standard design is favoured and that directly leads into the supply chain and frame agreements. This effectively results in less opportunity for the supply chains and less choice for the owners. 

These new influences only emphasise the importance of developing good relationships in Asia. These take time, trust and patience to establish. Mike went on to explain how overcoming language barriers and understanding the psychology and culture are key to success by adding “you must have a good local representative to navigate and understand the market”

Webinar  attendees agreed with Mikes sentiments with 53% indicating they would choose to intensify/build up a local presence. See below poll results on how they would deal with Asian shipyard reorganisation:

  • 52% choose to intensify/build up a local presence.
  • 31% choose more lobbying at home and/or on the market.
  • 14% choose diversifying business into non-maritime markets.
  • 3% favoured other approaches.

You can view the webinar, in full on the Riviera webinar library.

Panellists: (left to right): BRL Shipping Consultants founder and chief executive Barry Luthwaite, Danish Export Association head of marine Mark Lerche, Rivertrace Engineering owner Mike Coomber, Society of Maritime Industries chief executive designate Tom Chant